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BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Congressman Filemon Vela recently hosted a Telephone Town Hall with a panel of experts to provide an update on the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  

The panel included specialists in health care, small business relief, unemployment insurance, stimulus payments and the impact of the virus on the border.  

The Telephone Town Hall also heard from Ivy Arroyo, a local resident who has recovered from the virus. (Editor’s Note: Click HERE to listen to his testimony.)

More than 4,000 constituents called in to ask questions of Congressman Vela and the experts.

The panel consisted of Julian Alvarez, commissioner, Texas Workforce Commission; Dr. Christopher Romero, physician advisor, Valley Baptist Medical Center; Josh Mejia, executive director, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation; Patricio Sampayo, chairman, Brownsville Housing Authority; and Karen McAfee, staff director, House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.


SpaceX Selected by NASA for Artemis Moon Mission

Meanwhile, Congressman Vela has announced that SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is one of three U.S. companies selected to design and build spacecrafts capable of landing humans on the moon for NASA’s Artemis program, reporter Dayna Reyes writes.

Vela said this is exciting news for South Texas because SpaceX is building and testing its human landing system, the Starship, at Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville/

The other two companies selected by NASA for the Artemis program are Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, and Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama. Vela said one of these three companies will ultimately carry out the Artemis moon mission, which will bring the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024.

“NASA’s selection of SpaceX for the development of human landing systems is great news for the South Texas economy,” said Congressman Filemon Vela. “This program will create local jobs as well as increase educational opportunities for students, scientists and researchers. I am committed to supporting SpaceX and fellow community leaders as we move forward with this exciting and transformative project.”

NASA said the total combined value for the three awarded contracts is $967 million for a 10-month base period. Funding was allocated under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix H Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

 To learn more about the Artemis program visit https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/.


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Producing quality journalism is not cheap. The coronavirus has resulted in falling revenues across the newsrooms of the United States. However, The Rio Grande Guardian is committed to producing quality news reporting on the issues that matter to border residents. The support of our members is vital in ensuring our mission gets fulfilled. 

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