Regents Approve Texas A&M Space Institute
The members of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System on Wednesday approved the creation of the Texas A&M Space Institute and the construction a Texas A&M facility next to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The board’s action follows a $350 million investment from the Texas Legislature. Earlier this year, State Rep. Greg Bonnen, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, authored House Bill 3447 to create the Texas Space Commission, the Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund and the Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium.
The measure also allocates $200 million to Texas A&M for construction of the facility at the Johnson Space Center. The purpose of the resource in Houston is to ensure that Texas remains a leader in the field of space exploration. Scientists and other personnel at the facility will support mission training, aeronautics research, advanced robotics and work on lunar and Martian exploration.
As for the institute, the vision involves expanding Texas’s role as the leader in the new space economy. It would leverage Texas A&M’s existing expertise and resources to make new discoveries, technological developments, health advances and workforce growth. It will depend on partnerships with public and private entities in a variety of sectors from across the country.
“The Texas A&M Space Institute will make sure the state expands its role as a leader in the new space economy,” John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System, said. “No university is better equipped for aeronautics and space projects than Texas A&M.”
Texas A&M University, a Space Grant university, employs four astronauts on the faculty. Also, scientists and engineers from Texas A&M have participated in all NASA rover missions to Mars with two scientists active on NASA’s Perseverance Rover Team. Plus, more than 280 faculty and investigators from Texas A&M University, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and Texas A&M AgriLife Research are involved in space-related research.
Presently, Texas A&M’s students, faculty and researchers are working on more than 300 space-related projects. Competitive funding awards at Texas A&M have come from NASA and other government agencies, as well as grants from the commercial space industry. They have exceeded $25 million per year for the last five years.
Interdisciplinary space-related research occurs in more than 12 colleges/schools across Texas A&M University in College Station, and other System universities, including Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, have subject matter experts in space-related research.