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Utah Resident Inducted Into The 2015 U.S. Astronaut Hall Of Fame

Astronaut Kent Rominger, pilot, STS085-324-007 (7 - 19 August 1997)

Kent Rominger is being inducted into the 2015 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 30. Though he has hung up his spacesuit, he hasn’t left the industry. He is now the vice president of strategy and development at Orbital ATK. He said Utah is crucial to space exploration.

“Utah is very important," Rominger said. "It goes back all the way to when the space shuttle was being developed and they were looking at boosters at, ‘How do we get 250 thousand pounds,’ that being the space shuttle, 'Put into orbit?’ Which is a very big payload.”

Utah entered the space program in 1973 when Morton-Thiokol, out of Brigham City, was chosen to develop the solid rocket motors that would propel the shuttle into space.

Rominger said Utah has many similarities to a valley in Calif. that companies find appealing.

"Utah is a state that has worked very hard to control the budget, but also to grow economically, so certainly [it's a] kind of a miniature Silicon Valley," Rominger said. "Utah’s lured in different organizations, such as Adobe, and made it attractive. I think we’re in the top five of attractiveness to commercial companies on incentives the state of Utah brings for folks so, Utah is trying very hard and I think will be a very important piece of space exploration."

He said Orbital ATK is working on some projects that will make history.

“I’m very involved in the space launch system, SLS, which will be the super rocket that will eventually enable us to send humans to Mars," Rominger said. "The project is so exciting. The fact that we’re developing the system that’s going to wind up with boot prints on Mars in the 2030s."

Rominger first launched as a pilot of STS-73 Columbia in Oct. 1995 and though he’s originally from Colo., he’s landed in Utah with his goals still set on the stars.