John C. Stennis Space Center

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John C. Stennis Space Center
NASA logo.svg
Stennis Space Center Test Stand.jpg
The B-1/B-2 Test Stand holding space shuttle components (1987)
Agency overview
Formed 1961
Preceding agencies Mississippi Test Operations
National Space Technology Laboratories
Jurisdiction U.S. federal government
Headquarters Hancock County, Mississippi
Agency executive Dr. Richard J. Gilbrech[1], director
Parent agency NASA
Website Stennis Space Center home page

The John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) is a NASA rocket testing facility. It is located in Hancock County, Mississippi, on the banks of the Pearl River at the MississippiLouisiana border. As of 2012, it is NASA's largest rocket engine test facility. There are over 30 local, state, national, international, private, and public companies and agencies using SSC for their rocket testing facilities. Because of the importance of SSC to the US space program it has been said "...that the road to space goes through Mississippi"[2]

History[edit]

The initial requirements for NASA's proposed rocket testing facility required the site to be located between the rockets' manufacturing facility at Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, Louisiana and the launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Also, the site required barge access as the rocket motors to be tested for Apollo were too large for overland transport.

NASA announced formation of the Mississippi Test Facility (now known as Stennis Space Center) on Oct. 25, 1961, for testing engines for the Apollo Program. A high-terrace area bordering the East Pearl River in Hancock County, Miss., was selected for its location. NASA entrusted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the difficult task to procure each land parcel either by directly purchasing the land or through acquisition of a perpetual easement.[3]

The selected area was thinly populated and met all other requirements; however before construction began, five small communities (Gainesville, Logtown, Napoleon, Santa Rosa, and Westonia), plus the northern portion of a sixth (Pearlington), and a combined population of 700 families had to be completely relocated off the facility. The effort acquired more than 3,200 parcels of privately owned land – 786 residences, 16 churches, 19 stores, three schools and a wide assortment of commercial buildings, including nightclubs and community centers. Remnants of the communities, including city streets and a one-room school house, still exist within the facility.[3]

The 13,500 acres (55 km2) site was selected on October 25, 1961 on the Mississippi Test Facility or Pearl River Site. On December 18, 1961 NASA officially designated the facility as NASA Mississippi Test Operations. The test area (officially known as the Fee Area) is surrounded by a 125,000 acres (506 km2) acoustical buffer zone. The facility's large concrete and metal rocket propulsion test stands were originally used to test-fire the first and second stages of the Saturn V rockets. The facility was renamed again to Mississippi Test Facility on July 1, 1965, became a part of the Marshall Space Flight Center

Starting in 1971, all Space Shuttle Main Engines were flight-certified at Stennis. On June 14, 1974 the site was renamed National Space Technology Laboratories, a name that continued until May 20, 1988 when it was renamed for Mississippi senator and space program supporter John C. Stennis.[4]

With the end of the Apollo and Shuttle programs, use of the base decreased, with economic impact to the surrounding communities. Over the years other government organizations and commercial entities have moved to and left from the facility, in the balance providing a major economic benefit to the communities.

Rocket propulsion test complex[edit]

Rocket Propulsion Test Complex
Static Test Firing S-1C Saturn V Mississippi Test Facility MTF
Location Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Built 1965
Architect NASA
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body NATIONAL AERONAUTICS & SPACE ADMINISTRATION
NRHP Reference # 85002805
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 3, 1985[5]
Designated NHL October 3, 1985[6]
An aerial photo shows all three NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) test complexes - the E Test Complex (foreground), the three A Test Complex stands (middle) and the B Test Complex (back).

The Rocket Propulsion Test Complex is a rocket testing complex which was built in 1965 as a component of the John C. Stennis Space Center. The Rocket Propulsion Test Complex played an important role in the development of the Saturn V rocket. The A-1, A-2 and B-1/B-2 test stands were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985.[6][7] The NASA Engineering & Science Directorate (ESD) at SSC operates and maintains SSC's rocket test stands.

A-1 and A-2 Test stands[edit]

A-1 test stand(foreground), A-2 (mid-ground) and B1/B2 (background)

The smaller two of the original three test stands at Stennis Space Center, the A-1 and A-2 stands were built to test and flight-certify the second stage of the Saturn V, the S-II (pronounced "ess two"), the launch vehicle for the Apollo program. The two stands are similar steel and concrete structures are roughly 200 feet tall, and capable of withstanding thrust loads of more than 1 million pounds and temperature of up to 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Each test stand can provide liquid Hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX)in addition to support fluids, gaseous helium (GHe), gaseous hydrogen (GH2) and gaseous nitrogen (GN2) as purge or pressurizing gasses.

Construction began in 1963 and was finished in 1966. The A Test Complex also includes a Test Control Center, observation bunkers, and various technical and support systems.

1960s[edit]

On 23 April 1966 workmen at the A-2 test stand successfully captive-fired for 15 seconds the S-II-T, Structural and Dynamic Test Vehicle for the Saturn V second stage, in an all-systems test. This was the first test of a flight-weight S-II stage. The stage, largest and most powerful liquid oxygen-liquid hydrogen stage known, developed one million pounds of thrust from its five Rocketdyne J-2 engines. This test also marked the first operational use of the A-2 stand.[8][9]

The first full-duration firing of the S-II flight stage occurred 20 May 1966 when S-II-T test-fired on the A-2 test stand for 354.5 seconds. LOX cutoff sensors initiated cutoff automatically. The firing passed all major test objectives with the exception of the propellant utilization system. This was the fourth static firing of the S-II-T. The stage developed one million pounds of thrust from its five hydrogen-oxygen-powered J-2 engines.[10]

S-II-T Rupture

A static test version of the Saturn V second stage S-II-T ruptured during pressure tests at SSC on 28 May 1966, and five North American Aviation technicians monitoring the test received minor injuries. The accident occurred when the hydrogen fuel tank failed under pressure. S-II-T, which had five hydrogen-oxygen J-2 engines capable of generating one million pounds of thrust, had been tested May 25 in ground firing but stopped firing after 195 seconds when a hydrogen link leak caused automatic cutoff. At time of the explosion, technicians were trying to determine cause for the hydrogen leak. No hydrogen was in the tank when the explosion occurred. Under the direction of MSFC, a Board of Inquiry headed by Dr. Kurt H. Debus, Director of Kennedy Space Center, convened on the night of May 28. Immediate investigation revealed that the second shift crew, not knowing that the liquid hydrogen pressure sensors and switches had been disconnected, had attempted to pressurize the tank. Believing that a liquid hydrogen vent valve was leaking, the technicians closed the facility by blocking valves. This had caused the vehicle tank to become over-pressurized and burst. On 30 May 1966 the board released its findings after two days of inquiry. The fuel tank of the S-II stage had been pressurized beyond design limits. There was a need for tighter controls over MTF test procedure. Following the destruction of S-II-T, NASA extended the S-II battleship program until July 1967[10]

S-II-1, the first flight S-II stage scheduled for static firing at MTF, left Seal Beach on July 31, 1966.

The first flight model (S-II-1) of the Saturn V vehicle's second stage arrived August 13, 1966 at MTF completing its 4,000-mile voyage from Seal Beach. Workmen immediately moved the stage into the S-II stage service and checkout building for inspection and preparation for static firing.

At MTF on December 1, 1966 North American Aviation conducted a successful 384-second captive firing of five J-2 engines, the first flight hydrogen-fueled engines, developing a total one million pounds of thrust. During the test, number 2 and 4 engine SLAM arms did not drop, resulting in the successful gimballing of engines 1 and 3 only. The test included the recording of about 800 measurements of the stage's performance, including propellant tank temperatures, engine temperatures, propellant flow rates, and vibrations.[11]

On December 30, 1966, MSFC technicians at the MTF test stand conducted a static firing of the first flight version of the Saturn V second stage, S-II-1. This second test firing, like an earlier firing, lasted more than six minutes.[12]

1967

On January 11, 1967 initial post-static checkout of the S-II-1 stage ended at MTF.[13]

on January 27, 1967 the S-II-2 stage left Seal Beach, California, to pass through the Panama Canal and on to MTF. After its journey lasting 16 days, the S-II would arrive at MTF for two static tests.

The S-II-2 stage arrived on dock at MTF on February 11, 1967. The S-II-2 stage, part of the second Saturn V vehicle (AS-502) scheduled for launch from KSC late in 1967, was scheduled for testing at MTF late in March 1967.[14][15]

On February 17, 1967 the first full-duration test of a cluster of uprated J-2 engines, S-II battleship test No. 041, lasted 360 seconds.[16]

On February 25, 1967 workmen at MTF completed construction of the S-II A-1 test stand, and the Corps of Engineers accepted beneficial occupancy with exceptions.[14]

On March 17, 1967 technicians fired the S-II battleship stage for a mainstage duration of 29 seconds.[17]

On March 31, failure of a prevalve to close caused program officials at MTF to scrub the first attempt to static fire the S-II-2 stage.[18]

Battleship testing of the S-II battleship test stage equipped with five uprated J-2 engines ended in late March 1967 with a full-duration test of approximately 360 seconds mainstage operation.[19]

SUMMARY

These two test stands tested and flight-certified S-II stages and J-2 engines until the end of the Apollo program in the early 1970s.[8]

1970s[edit]

It was announced in 1971 that the center would be performing tests on the engines for the new Space Shuttle program (called the SSME). The A-1 and A-2 test stands, originally designed to accommodate the much larger S-II engines, were modified to accept the smaller SSME, and testing officially began on May 19, 1975 when the first such engine was tested on the A-1 stand. The center continued to test engines for the duration of the shuttle program, on the A-1 and A-2 stands with the final scheduled test occurred on July 29, 2009 on the A-2 stand.

2010s[edit]

As the shuttle program is phased out, the A-1 and A-2 test stands are seeing new use testing the next generation of rocket engines, including the J-2X engine designed to power the SLS upper stage, with the first such test occurring on December 18, 2007.

Stennis is continuing to test Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 rocket engines for Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., which has partnered with NASA to provide commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. Orbital’s maiden flight to the space station launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Sept. 18. Orbital's Antares rocket was powered by a pair of AJ26 engines.[2]

B-1/B-2 Test stand[edit]

The B-1/B-2 test stand is a dual-position, vertical, static-firing stand supporting a maximum dynamic load of 11M lbf. It was originally built in he 1960's to simultaneously test the five F-1 engines of a complete Saturn-V S1-C first stage from 1967 to 1970. During the shuttle era it was modified to test the Space Shuttle Main Engine(SSME). Stennis now leases the B-1 test position to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for testing of RS-68 engines for the Delta IV launch vehicle. NASA is preparing the B-2 test position to test the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) in late 2016 and early 2017. The SLS core stage, with four RS-25D rocket engines, will be installed on the stand for propellant fill and drain testing and two hot-fire tests.[20]

On 17 October 1966 MSFC shipped its S-IC all-system test booster, S-IC-T, to SSC for use in checkout of a static test stand and for use in static firings. Workmen loaded the huge booster aboard the barge Poseidon for the 1,000-mile river journey. Six days later the S-IC-T reached SSC. All future firings would be accomplished at the B-2 stand at MTF.[21]

An all-systems test version of Apollo/Saturn V first stage, S-IC-T, went into the B-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility on December 17, 1966. Stage electrical and mechanical hook-up to the test stand began immediately. Static firing would occur in early 1967 to demonstrate the facility checkout system.[22]

1967

On 13 Feb 1967 Corps of Engineers personnel completed construction of the S-IC B-2 test stand at MTF.[14][23]

Following an extensive systems, subsystems, and total integrated systems checkout of the B-2 test stand at MTF on March 3, 1967, workmen successfully fired the S-IC battleship/all-systems stage (S-IC-T) for 15 seconds. This S-IC-T test, the first MTF S-IC firing, proved the total compatibility of stage, mechanical support equipment, and S-IC test facilities.[14][24]

A second S-IC-T firing lasted for 60 seconds on March 17, 1967. This firing validated the flame-bucket-water-flow pattern of the B-2 test stand and ended the facilities checkout test series at MTF.[25][26]

Boeing personnel removed the S-IC-T from test stand B-2 at MTF on March 24, 1967, following post-static checkout, test stand refurbishment, and facilities modification.[27]

A-3 Test stand[edit]

NASA has begun construction of the new A-3 test stand at SSC.[28] The A-3 stand was to be used for testing J-2X engines under vacuum conditions simulating high altitude operation. A-3 will also be operable as a sea-level test facility.[29] However, because the Constellation Program was cancelled in 2010, the stand is expected to be unused after its completion. In 2014, journalists writing for Bloomberg News and the Washington Times criticized the continued construction work on the $350 million A-3 Test stand, and characterized it as a wasteful earmark by Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker.[30][31]

E Test stand complex[edit]

E test stand complex in 2005

In the 1990s, a new test complex named "E" was constructed to test a variety of new small engine and single/multiple components and concepts. The E test stand complex consists of four distinct test stands

E1 Test stand[edit]

The stand is composed of three individual test "cells":[citation needed]

  • E1 Cell 1 can handle liquid-propellant and hybrid based test articles up to 750,000 pounds-force (3,300 kN) of thrust in a horizontal position.
  • E1 Cells 2 and 3 are designed to support LOX and LH2 turbopump assemblies for testing with high-pressure propellant feeds.

In 2012, Blue Origin tested the thrust chamber assembly at the E-1 test cell for its new 100,000 pounds-force (440 kN) thrust BE-3 liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen rocket engine. As part of Blue's Reusable Booster System (RBS), the engines are designed eventually to launch the biconic-shaped Space Vehicle[clarification needed] the company is developing.[2][32][33]

E2 Test stand[edit]

The E-2 Cell 1 test facility at Stennis is a multi-position cell that supports two separate test stands, one for testing horizontally mounted engines and one for vertically mounted engines. Both can support engines with up to 100,000 pounds-force (440 kN) of thrust.[32] The facility can provide Liquid Oxygen, Liquid Nitrogen, Liquid Hydrogen, Refined Petroleum (RP1), H2O, Gaseous Hydrogen, "Hot" Gaseous Hydrogen, Gaseous Oxygen and Gaseous Nitrogen.[34]

E2 Cell 1, originally known as the High Heat Flux Facility (HHFF), was constructed in 1993 to support materials development for the National Aerospace Plane (NASP).[32][34]

The E2 test stand will be modified after 2013 to support liquid methane engine testing, with funds being provided by SpaceX, the Mississippi Development Authority (US$500,000 using funding from state bond issues), and NASA (up to US$600,000). As of October 2013, the SpaceX funding commitment to the methane modification project has not yet been disclosed, as the contract has not yet been finalized and executed. The methane modifications will become a permanent part of the Stennis test infrastructure and will be available to other users of the test facility after the SpaceX facility lease is completed.[32]

The most recent test completed on the E-2 test stand, as of October 2013, was a 2012 NASA test of chemical steam generators.[32]

Beginning in 2014, Space X will be conducting tests of their liquid methane/liquid oxygen Raptor rocket engine on the E-2 test stand. Initial testing will be limited to components of the Raptor engine, since the test stand is not large enough to test the full Raptor engine, which is rated to generate more than 661,000 lbf (2,940 kN) vacuum thrust.[2][32]

E3 Test stand[edit]

The E3 test stand consists of two test cells for component and pilot scale combustion device testing:

  • E3 Cell 1 can support devices up to 60,000 pounds-force (270,000 N) thrust in a horizontal position. Propellant supports includes LOX or gaseous oxygen/hydrocarbon, gaseous oxygen/gaseous hydrogen and hybrid.
  • E3 Cell 2 can support devices up to 25,000 pounds-force (110,000 N) thrust in a vertical position. Propellent configurations are similar to E3 Cell 1 with the addition of hydrogen peroxide based devices.

A series of tests conducted in the late 1990s eventually led to the commercialization of hybrid rocket motors.

Test firing an American Rocket Company (AMROC) hybrid rocket motor at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in 1994[clarification needed].[35]

E4 Test stand[edit]

The E4 test stand[citation needed] is a single cell.[clarification needed]

H-1 Test stand[edit]

In 2001 the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization proposed construction of a $140 million facility at Stennis H-1 test stand to test its proposed Space-Based Laser (SBL) to begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. The facility was to be used to evaluate beam quality, efficiency, and power levels for a prototype megawatt-class hydrogen fluoride laser.[36][37]

The location for the E4 test stand was proposed for near the H1 Test Stand was evaluated but there are no substantial utilities on the site and the gravel access road to the test stand would require improvements.[38]

In 2007, British manufacturer Rolls-Royce plc has been operating an outdoor aero-engine test facility built on the old H1 test area. Rolls-Royce constructed the facility due to noise pollution concerns at its UK testing facility at Hucknall Airfield near its headquarters in Derby.[39] In 2013 they built a second test stand.[40]

Gallery[edit]

Tenant facilities[edit]

In 2005, the Center was home to over 30 government agencies and private companies. By far the largest of these were elements of the United States Navy with some 3,500 personnel, which was far larger than the NASA civil servant contingent. Some of the prominent resident agencies include:[citation needed]

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration[edit]

The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). NDBC designs, develops, operates, and maintains a network of data collecting buoys and coastal stations.

US Geological Survey[edit]

United States Navy[edit]

University[edit]

Commercial[edit]

Former tenant organizations[edit]

StenniSphere[edit]

The museum and visitor center for the Stennis Space Center was known as StenniSphere, but closed its doors to the public on February 15, 2012.[41] Exhibits focused on the activities of NASA, space, space exploration, science, geography, weather and more. Many of the exhibits from StenniSphere have been moved into the new INFINITY visitor facility.

INFINITY[edit]

The INFINITY Science Center officially opened in April 2012 to replace the old StenniSphere visitors center.[42] The new center features state-of-the-art science and space exhibits, including a full-sized International Space Station module.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelley, Mike (September 26, 2012). "Scheuermann appointed new MSFC director". The Huntsville Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "NASA Administrator Visits Stennis to Commend Employee Efforts | NASA". Nasa.gov. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/pdf/697602main_October_12_Lagniappe.pdf
  4. ^ "May 1961 speech leads to Stennis facility". Lagniappe. 11 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  6. ^ a b "Rocket Propulsion Test Complex". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  7. ^ Harry A. Butowsky (May 15, 1984). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Rocket Propulsion Test Complex / A-1/A-2 B-1/B-2 Test Stands PDF (559 KB). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 8 photos, from 1966, 1967, 1971, 1973, and 1977. PDF (1.76 MB)
  8. ^ a b "A-1 Test Stand". NASA. 
  9. ^ MSFC Press Release No. 66-83, Apr. 21, 1966
  10. ^ a b MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 19.
  11. ^ MSFC Press Release No. 66-228, Nov. 30, 1966
  12. ^ MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 6.
  13. ^ MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, Jan. 1-June 30, 1967, p. 34.
  14. ^ a b c d MTF, Historical Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1967, (draft)
  15. ^ "Saturn V Weekly Report, No. 8," Feb. 21, 1967
  16. ^ MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, Jan. 1-June 30, 1967, p. 30.
  17. ^ [Test Lab., Monthly Progress Report, Mar. 1967, p. 19.]
  18. ^ [ "Saturn IB Weekly Notes 13-67," April 3, 1967]
  19. ^ [NAA S&ID, S-II Quarterly Progress Report, April–June 1967, p. II-6.]
  20. ^ "B1/B2 Test Stand". NASA. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  21. ^ MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 72.
  22. ^ MSFC Press Release No. 66-294, Dec. 13, 1966
  23. ^ Memo, Sneed to NASA Headquarters, "Saturn V Weekly Report, No. 8," Feb. 21, 1967
  24. ^ MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, Jan. 1-June 30, 1967, p. 19.
  25. ^ [MTF, Historical Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1967]
  26. ^ [MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, Jan. 1-June 30, 1967, p. 19.]
  27. ^ [NAA S&ID, S-II Quarterly Progress Report, Jan.-Mar. 1967, p. II-16.]
  28. ^ "NASA's Stennis Space Center Marks New Chapter in Space Exploration". NASA. 
  29. ^ "Environmental Assessment for Stennis Space Center A-3 Test Stand". NASA. 
  30. ^ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-08/congress-makes-nasa-finish-useless-350-million-structure.html
  31. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/30/golden-hammer-350-million-nasa-project-to-be-compl/
  32. ^ a b c d e f Leone, Dan (2013-10-25). "SpaceX Could Begin Testing Methane-fueled Engine at Stennis Next Year". Space News. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  33. ^ "NASA - Blue Origin Tests Rocket Engine Thrust Chamber". Nasa.gov. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  34. ^ a b http://pdf.aiaa.org/downloads/2005/CDReadyMJPC2005_1177/2005_4419.pdf
  35. ^ "Hybrid Rocket Overview, Part 2". Space Safety Magazine. 2013-07-12. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  36. ^ "Stennis Space Center". Spinoff.nasa.gov. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  37. ^ http://www.ssc.nasa.gov/environmental/pdf/ER1.pdf
  38. ^ http://www.ssc.nasa.gov/environmental/pdf/E4earev%20DOC.pdf
  39. ^ "Rolls-Royce Opens New Outdoor Jet Engine Testing Facility". Einpresswire.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  40. ^ Mississippi (2013-10-16). "Rolls-Royce opens second engine test stand at Stennis Space Center | gulflive.com". Blog.gulflive.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  41. ^ "StenniSphere Museum and Visitor Center to Close" (Press release). NASA. Jan 30, 2012. 
  42. ^ "History of INFINITY Science Center". NASA. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°21′45.96″N 89°36′00.72″W / 30.3627667°N 89.6002000°W / 30.3627667; -89.6002000