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NASA working with Texas A&M to build new spaceflight research facilities

Posted: 11:41 AM, Feb 16, 2024
Updated: 2024-02-16 12:41:45-05
NASA and Texas A&M leaders meeting at the ASCENDxTexas Conference in South Shore Harbour, Texas on Feb. 15.

HOUSTON, Texas — New spaceflight research facilities are coming to Texas following the announcement of an agreement between NASA and the Texas A&M University System to utilize underdeveloped land at the space agency's Johnson Space Center.

NASA and Texas A&M leaders made the announcement on Feb. 15 at the ASCENDxTexas Conference in South Shore Harbour, Texas.

The lease agreement specifies Texas A&M utilizing an underdeveloped, 240-acre parcel of land at NASA Johnson near Saturn Lane in an area known as Exploration Park.

“For more than 60 years, NASA Johnson has been the hub of human spaceflight,” said NASA Johnson Space Director, Vanessa Wyche.

Leaders at the conference said the agreement will allow new collaborations that will benefit the space economy of the United States.

“Exploration Park will be the next spoke in the larger wheel of a robust and durable space economy that will benefit not only exploration of the Moon, Mars and the asteroids, but all of humanity as the benefits of space exploration research roll home to Earth," Wyche said.

NASA said the new infrastructures, planned by the Texas A&M System, will be open to multi-use purposes from academic researchers, aerospace companies, and entrepreneurs.

“The Texas A&M University System has a long history of supporting space-related research, and Texas A&M University has been a space grant university since 1989,” said Texas A&M Chancellor, John Sharp. “This new agreement and planned facility will allow us to build on our space tradition and help us to be a major part of the commercial space economy.”

On June 9, 2023, NASA opened up proposals for the use of the underdeveloped land at Exploration Park.

Negotiations were finally completed with Texas A&M's Board of Regents to utilize the land, which is adjacent to NASA Johnson's main campus and controlled access area.

NASA will be leasing the land to Texas A&M for 20 years with additional 20-year options, creating a potential 60 year leasing deal.

Texas A&M President Mark Welsh III said in a statement:

“For the last 35 years, Texas A&M University has honored its space-grant mission by becoming a powerhouse in human and robotic space exploration. This agreement enables us to leverage faculty expertise, establish strategic partnerships and develop resources to foster new discoveries, technological innovations and a future workforce that will benefit Texas and the nation. We are grateful to NASA, the Board of Regents and the State of Texas for their vision and support of Texas A&M’s work in space exploration.”