Published December 5, 2015 by Randy Krehbiel (Tulsa World)
First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine brought House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas to Tulsa on Friday.
Publicly, they talked mostly about how bad the Obama administration’s environmental regulations are.
Privately, at a dinner with area manufacturers Friday night at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, they planned to discuss putting the “space” back into Tulsa’s aerospace sector.
“We’ve been talking about a burgeoning space industry, with private commercial companies launching constellations of satellites the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” Bridenstine said during a press conference earlier in the day.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett, appearing at the same news conference, said, “We could segue very easily into things like cyber security that have a real part in space.”
“You have a good foundation,” Smith said. “There is a role for Tulsa in the continued commercialization of space.”
Tulsa’s involvement in space manufacturing goes back many decades. The need to transport large aerospace components even figured into the completion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.
In the mid-1950s, Douglas Aircraft’s plant in Tulsa began developing the Delta launch system that, in various forms, has carried satellites into space for more than a half-century. Soon after, North American Aviation — later North American Rockwell and now Boeing Co. — began building components for America’s manned space program, including the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
“We made major components of the Saturn rocket that took Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the moon,” said Bridenstine, a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.
“We built the bay doors on all of the space shuttles, which are quite frankly engineering marvels,” Bridenstine said. “We built the big devices that bring the shuttle up vertical for the launch. … We built all 11 trusses on the International Space Station. We built the devices that maneuver the big solar arrays on the International Space Station. The shuttle carrier aircraft, the 747 that carried the space shuttle on its back, was modified right here in the city of Tulsa.Follow @FortySixNews