LEXINGTON, KY, USA - Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton visited Morehead State on Wednesday for the kickoff of the Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium (KAIC).
The event was held at MSU's Space Science Center.
“We are at the front end of what I think is going to be transformative, not just for Kentucky, not just for MSU, but for the aerospace industry as a whole, and Kentucky is going to be the forerunner,” Bevin said.
However, Kentucky was not always known for its emphasis on aerospace.
As Dr. Ben Malphrus, director of the Space Science Center explained, Kentucky was once “known for bourbon, thoroughbreds, and the automotive industry.”
Now, it is an aerospace state.
Malphrus told guests upon his arrival to MSU in 1990, there was one astronomy class on campus. MSU wanted to do something in aerospace.
Aerospace is now the top economic driver in the state.
“We are tickled pink to be hosting the launch for the KAIC,” Malphrus said.
Stewart Ditto, Project Manager in the Governor's office, explained that 120 high schools in the nation have aviation programs.
Half of those schools are in Kentucky.
“Everyone in our government is in support of this industry,” he said.
“You have a champion in the lieutenant governor's office to get girls interested in the STEM field,” said Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.
“I grew up watching rocket launches every chance I could. I dreamed big dreams.”
Hampton established the KAIC as a non-profit to advance and promote the aerospace industry in Kentucky, which will emphasize research and development, aviation, and workforce development.
Also in attendance was Chris Randall, aerospace engineer for the Marshall Space Flight Center, based in Alabama.
He told of NASA's latest project, the Exploration Mission One, which will be capable of traveling to Mars. Expected launch date is set for 2018.
“We are on the verge on something big,” Randall says.
Bevin stated, “I am really excited about this group and to see it get off the ground.”
The board of directors include: Lt. Gov. Hampton, Dr. Ben Malphrus, J. Edwin Webb, World Trade Center Kentucky; Dannette Wilder, Sealing Life; Kris Kimel, Kentucky Science and Technology Cooperation; Commission of Aviation Col. Steve Parker; and Brad Thomas, East Kentucky Power Cooperative.
“We believe in what is happening at MSU and we are grateful for it,” says Bevin.
He challenged guests to go out into their communities and be emissaries for the space science program. He says that students are unaware that these programs at MSU exist.
A ceremonial rocket launch was held in celebration of the launch of KAIC.
Luke Grayson and Kenneth Carroll, students of the Space Science program, were on site for the launch.
They built the rocket for the event which was launched in front of the Space Science Center and landed behind the recently opened Andrews Hall.
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