How many kids have gazed up into the sky and pondered what it’s like to be an astronaut or space traveler? How many adults, for that matter? There’s something about outer space, which we get a glimpse of through the night sky, that excites the 10 year old watching Star Wars in all of us.

But, deep space doesn't have any connection to Baton Rouge, does it? Yes, Luke, it does!

Bob Fudickar is Executive Director of the LSU National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which, among other things, is building the rocket NASA is sending astronauts to Mars. The center is located at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and is home to  partnership between NASA, the state of Louisiana, LSU, UNO and the UNO Research and Technology Foundation. It was originally formed in 1999, and is a state of the art research and production center focused on applying advanced manufacturing technologies to lightweight composite and metallic materials in support of the NASA space program and adjacent industries.

Bob Fudickar has spent his career in business and technology in south Louisiana, including stints at Arthur Andersen, General Electrics and NASA.

Serena Pandos is Executive Director of the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, which among other things, gets a lot of kids thinking about going to Mars, and elsewhere in space. That’s because the LASM is home to the Irene Pennington Planetarium, a 60-foot domed theater that is one of the most sophisticated multimedia presentation venues in the country.   

And the LASM is about more than just the planetarium. It is has a permanent collection of American and European art, Louisiana modern and contemporary art, photography and exhibitions on ancient Egypt, the solar system and the universe.

It's not unusual for people living in small Louisiana towns to think they're the center of the universe. Think for example of Crowley that bills itself as "The Rice Capital of the World" or Ville Platte's self-bestowed title as "The Smoked Meat Capital of the World."  Here in Baton Rouge, with our contribution to conquering space and going to Mars, we have a legitimate claim to our place as the actual center of the universe!

Out to Lunch Baton Rouge is recorded over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can see photos from this show by Erik Otts at our website. And, believe it or not, there are other companies in Baton Rouge in the space industry.

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