Alabama bill to restore or replicate Saturn 1B rocket reintroduced
ARDMORE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Saturn 1B, an icon of North Alabama, may still have some hope to stay right where it is on I-65 in Ardmore. In January, an announcement was made that the rocket would be removed from the Ardmore Welcome Center because it had deteriorated in the elements for 44 years.
State Senator Tom Butler introduced his original bill, Senate Bill 237, with the hopes of keeping the iconic Saturn IB right where it is. However, in recent weeks, he decided to rework and reintroduce the bill after language about Alabama monuments was added to the original bill while in committee.
“The language is dealing with other monuments and things in Alabama’s past and is not about the future of where we are with the space program in the nation.” Senator Butler said.
The newly reintroduced Senate Bill 313 does not contain any language about other monuments. Butler said he reworked it to only discuss the future of Saturn 1B.
If the bill is passed, an inspection will be done to see if there is any chance to restore the rocket. If not, a plan would be put in motion to replicate the rocket. Whatever the outcome, Butler said the original or a replica needs to stay on the state line, because it represents what Alabama has to offer.
“It is an iconic symbol of our space ventures for the whole nation so Saturn 1B at the Ardmore welcome center needs to be restored and kept in place,” Butler said.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs would oversee the construction and installation of a replica rocket if the original is beyond repair. The bill would also allow the department to accept public or private grants and donations to commission the rocket.
Concerned citizen Steven Thornton said it would be a tragedy for the state to remove the iconic symbol from where it has stood for 44 years.
“We need to save this rocket if it is at all restorable or reparable due to its iconic nature for the state of Alabama but more importantly with respect to history this is one of only two in existence Saturn 1B’s and it is priceless,” Thornton said.
The new bill is currently in committee. Senator Butler said if it gets passed, NASA engineers will look over the rocket to see if it can be repaired.
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