The Johnson Space Center has a substantial economic
impact on Texas, the Southeast Texas region and the Houston-Clear Lake-area
community. Indeed, it is one of the "big three" along with petrochemicals
and world-renowned medical facilities helping propel Houston's economy.
But the impact of the Center stretches far beyond
financial considerations. It has a strong and growing relationship with
the public which benefits both the Center and its neighbors.
The Center holds an annual open house for the public,
the ultimate owners and beneficiaries of the space program. More importantly
than being a host to an increasingly popular event, the Johnson Space
Center and its people help preserve and popularize the heritage of the
area. The Center and its people also have a positive impact on education,
from the elementary through postgraduate levels.
The Center shares facilities with the community,
including a modern Emergency Operations Center, that could save lives
in the event of a natural disaster or other major emergency.
As FY 1997 began, the Johnson Space Center's workforce on site and
near the site totaled almost 15,000, including nearly 3,400 civil servants.
When the effects of money flowing across the
region from salaries and Center activities is taken into account, Johnson
Space Center activities are responsible for a substantially greater
number of jobs.
Texas is second among the states in total NASA
dollars received. In work assigned to the Johnson Space Center, almost
half the Shuttle program dollars and more than 10 percent of Space Station
dollars stay in Texas.
Other facts of note as FY 1997 began
- About 80 percent of the NASA and Johnson Space
Center budgets went to the private sector via contracts, compared
to about 9 percent of the total federal budget.
- Average age of Center civil servants was 44;
about 84 percent of employees had bachelor's degrees, 23 percent of
those had masters and 6 percent held doctorates.
- Since it was established, Johnson Space Center
budgets have totaled more than $61 billion. Additional impact is realized
from substantial space-related tourism. Much of it results from visitors
attracted by the Johnson Space Center and the independently operated
visitor facility, Space Center Houston.
The Johnson Space Center Open House on Saturday,
August 23, was perhaps FY 1997's most visible and largest interaction
with the public. The theme was "Space . . . for all people." More than
100 exhibits at more than 20 facilities drew an estimated 80,000 visitors.
Vital to its success were the 1,600 volunteers
-- civil servants and contractor personnel -- who staffed the exhibits.
Among them were astronauts, scientists, engineers and administrators.
The event was free, and visitors were able to move around the Center
on foot or by using trams to view exhibits of interest.
Nearly every aspect of space flight was featured
in the comprehensive line-up of displays, demonstrations, and space
hardware. Mission operations, Shuttle and Space Station training and
simulations, robotics and virtual reality, manufacturing and fabrication,
spacecraft propulsion and energy systems, space communications, life
support and space suits, and a wealth of science investigations were
included. Visitors saw facilities that benefit the community, as well
as being resources for the Johnson Space Center. Other less visible facilities
and programs also offer substantial benefits to the community.
- The modern, 4,000-square-foot Emergency Operations
Center is designed to respond to any of a range of emergencies that
could affect the Johnson Space Center and neighboring communities.
More than a third of the Emergency Operations Center has been reserved
to augment community emergency operations. The facility's computer-aided
dispatch system became operational early in FY 1997.
- The Johnson Space Center Educator Resource
Center was relocated during FY 1997 to Space Center Houston. The facility
contributes to the nation's educational goals by giving teachers the
tools to expand and enhance the scientific and technological competence
of their students. Educators have immediate access to a wealth of
information created by NASA's programs, technologies, and discoveries.
The Educator Resource Center is free to all educators.
- Texas Independence Trail Riders and Longhorn
Cattle highlighted the Johnson Space Center's "Go Western Day" February
5, 1997. Dedication of the JSC Longhorn Project, a piece of Texas
heritage and Texas' future, was held before about 1,000 people --
among them trail riders, aerospace workers and educators. JSC Director
George Abbey joined officials from the Clear Creek Independent School
District, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Texas Longhorn
Breeders Association and local Go Texan subcommittee members in a
mid-day dedication of the JSC longhorn education project. The project
received its first two Texas longhorns that day. The Longhorn Project
will offer students the opportunity to learn about cattle care and
breeding, aquaculture, and fruit and vegetable cultivation.
- More than 225 Johnson Space Center and contractor
employees visited more than 350 area classrooms during February, the
month which includes National Engineers Week. Their purpose was to
encourage students to consider careers in engineering, science and
technology. A total of 117 schools in and around Houston hosted the
visits. The volunteers found eager audiences, and thank you letters
from students and teachers poured in for weeks.
- A collaborative education venture to locate
a Clear Creek Independent School District intermediate school at the
Johnson Space Center was announced in late May. The agreement provides
the opportunity to combine the scientific and technical expertise
of the Johnson Space Center with teaching skills of the Clear Creek
district faculty to further develop the science, mathematics and technology
curriculum for students. The school will be on about 35 acres on the
southwest corner of the Johnson Space Center. It is expected to be
completed by the fall of 1999.
- Twenty-three teams of undergraduate students
from U.S. colleges and universities flew with their scientific and
engineering experiments on the Center's KC-135 zero-gravity aircraft.
The program provided a unique academic experience -- it allowed the
students to propose, design, fabricate, fly and assess results of
zero-gravity experiments over an eight-month period.
- A team of engineers and manufacturing technicians
partnered with students from three Clear Creek ISD high schools for
the FY 1997 FIRST Competition. The acronym means "For Inspiration
and Recognition of Science and Technology." It is a national engineering
contest which immerses the students in engineering. With their professional
partners, students got a hands-on, in-depth look at the engineering
profession by designing, building and testing a "champion robot."
In a subsequent competition, complete with referees, cheerleaders
and time clocks, the Johnson Space Center-sponsored team finished
26th among 132 teams.
As impressive as they are, these are only a
few examples of the broad range of volunteering, giving and preparation
that make the Johnson Space Center a good neighbor and a good friend,
in normal times and times of need.