Artemis moon mission: NASA picks Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to manage lunar lander program – CBS News

NASA picks Alabama space center to manage lunar lander program

August 16, 2019 / 5:44 PM / CBS News

Despite protests from Texas lawmakers, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will manage the agency’s plans to build a lunar landing system that will carry the next man and the first woman to the surface of the moon in 2024 , NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Friday.

Appropriately enough, the critical program will be managed by Alabama native Lisa Watson-Morgan, who earned her engineering degree from the University of Alabama and is a three-decade NASA veteran.

“The program that will be managed here in northern Alabama is going to land the first woman on the south pole of the moon, and that landing system is being managed by one of NASA’s best engineers,” Bridenstine said. “And she just happens to be a woman. What a great American story for NASA.”

An artist’s impression of a possible lunar lander design, showing an ascent vehicle, carrying an astronaut crew, blasting off from the surface of the moon. NASA

Bridenstine made the announcement standing at the base of a towering test version of the 149-foot-tall liquid hydrogen tank that will be used in the first stage of the huge Space Launch System — SLS — rocket being built by Boeing to carry astronauts back to the moon.

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The Artemis moon program is the centerpiece of the Trump administration’s push to return astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024, four years earlier than NASA originally planned. The Johnson Space Center in Houston is managing all aspects of the program as it relates to astronauts, crew training, life support systems and mission design.

But the lander is a showcase element, and one that Texas lawmakers argue belongs at the Johnson Space Center. Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Rep. Brian Babin, all Texas Republicans, wrote to Bridenstine Thursday, asking him to “reconsider” his decision until the schedule, projected costs and rational can be explained in more detail.

“While the Marshall Space Flight Center specializes in rocketry and spacecraft propulsion, and is undoubtedly the leader in these areas, it is the Johnson Space Center, which has been, and continues to be, ground zero for human space exploration,” they wrote.

“The integration of development responsibilities into one center — ideally the center with the longest history and deepest institutional knowledge of human space exploration — would be the most cost-efficient, streamlined, and effective approach, and is the approach that NASA should pursue.”

They did not attend the Friday announcement.

But Bridenstine said Johnson will, in fact, be involved in the lander project and that the Texas space center already has a full plate with management of the International Space Station, development of commercial crew spacecraft, cargo delivery missions to the station and the Gateway space station required for Artemis moon landings.

“I understand some of their concerns,” he said. “This is about 363 total jobs, 140 of which will be here in Huntsville, 87 would be led out of the Johnson Space Center.”

With modern technology, including high-speed computer networks, teleconferencing and other tools, having engineers in two locations is not the impediment it was in the early days of the space program, he said.

Morgan tried to reassure critics that Marshall will work closely with other NASA field centers to ensure success.

“We’ve partnered extensively with all the other NASA centers through the years, and we intend to keep doing that,” she said. “That’s how we bring out the best. You let JSC work the crew module, you let Marshall lead in the propulsion areas, you let Glenn (Research Center) lead in the power systems. . That’s what we plan to do.”

In a break with past practice, where NASA developed a “reference” design that industry then implemented, “what we plan to do is collaborate with industry and bring their speed and our experience to try to have the best team that can make this 2024 goal,” Morgan said. “I’m very excited to be part of this, to lead this effort.”

The Artemis program calls for building a small space station called Gateway made up of a solar-electric propulsion module connected to a pressurized habitation module and a docking port. The modules will be launched to the moon by commercial rockets and assembled under remote control using autonomous docking systems.

An artist’s impression of a Boeing-built Space Launch System rocket climbing toward space. NASA

The lunar lander, consisting of three components, also will be launched atop commercial rockets and docked at the Gateway before any astronauts arrive. One component, a sort of carrier craft known as a transfer vehicle, would take the lander from Gateway down to a lower orbit. From there, the lander’s descent module will make a rocket-powered landing on the moon, initially carrying two astronauts.

The astronauts would ride down to the surface in the pressurized cabin of an upper ascent stage. That stage will use the descent module as a launching pad, much like the Apollo astronauts did 50 years ago, to climb back up to the transfer vehicle and then on to Gateway.

While the details remain to be seen, “we’ve got to have a lander,” Bridenstine said. “In most conceptual designs that (lander) requires three elements. . Two of those elements are highly focused on propulsion. And I would argue that when it comes to propulsion, there is no place in the world more experienced or better than the Marshall Space Flight Center.”

While development of Gateway and the lunar lander are underway, NASA will be pressing ahead with development and tests of the gargantuan Boeing-built SLS rocket needed to boost astronauts out of Earth orbit and on to the moon aboard Lockheed Martin-built Orion capsules.

An initial unpiloted test flight of the SLS-Orion space vehicle is planned for 2021, followed by a piloted flight around the moon in the 2022-23 timeframe. If all goes well, the third flight of the SLS will carry astronauts to the Gateway for an initial landing near the moon’s south pole in 2024.

NASA originally planned to put astronauts back on the moon in 2028. But earlier this year, the Trump administration directed the agency to accelerate those plans, approving $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for NASA’s fiscal 2020 budget to kick-start development.

Since then, NASA has awarded a contract to Maxar for Gateway’s propulsion module and another sole-source contract to Northrop Grumman for the habitation section. A variety of smaller fast-track contracts for science payloads and technology development have also been awarded.

But the schedule includes almost no margin for technical setbacks or delays. Complicating the outlook, Bridenstine has said NASA will need an additional $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years to meet the Trump administration’s 2024 lunar landing deadline.

“The funding is significant,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. “We’re talking about, in the first year, roughly $1.6 billion to make sure we’re on track to return to the moon by 2024. Over that five-year period, we’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 to 30 billion.

“And let me emphasize that has to be over and above what we’re already spending on the science NASA does,” he added. “That is a significant commitment, and I hope that Congress will be in a position to recognize the value, the advancements we’re undoubtedly going to have.”

First published on August 16, 2019 / 5:44 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of “Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia.”

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Engagement Score 21 of 420 -0.4 82.3 82.7 81.9 80.2 79.5 78.0 77.0 74.8 71.6 74.6 75.7 74.9 72.2 75.2
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2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2005 2003
Effective Leadership 8 of 413 0.3 77.7 77.4 76.8 74.6 74.2 71.8 73.8 70.9 68.6 70.9 70.0 67.0 66.1 66.7
Effective Leadership: Empowerment 8 of 413 -1.7 72.7 74.4 72.7 69.3 69.0 66.8 67.2 63.4 60.7 63.1 66.1 63.0 62.4 62.7
Effective Leadership: Fairness 5 of 413 1.3 78.8 77.5 77.2 74.9 73.2 71.9 74.6 70.9 69.7 69.8 66.5 64.3 65.3 63.7
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders 15 of 413 0.4 72.5 72.1 72.2 70.4 69.7 66.9 71.0 68.1 63.1 68.0 65.9 60.5 58.1 63.1
Effective Leadership: Supervisors 12 of 413 0.7 84.8 84.1 83.1 81.3 81.9 79.0 79.5 77.4 77.5 78.3 77.8 76.7 76.2 73.9
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NASA Selects Jacobs to Continue Environmental Engineering Support Services at Marshall Space Flight Center, Jacobs

NASA Selects Jacobs to Continue Environmental Engineering Support Services at Marshall Space Flight Center

Jacobs has been providing environmental services to Marshall since 1987

DALLAS, Dec. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Jacobs (NYSE: J) was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as the sole provider to continue architect-engineer (A-E) environmental engineering services at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), located in Huntsville, Alabama, and other NASA centers and installations.

Jacobs has been providing environmental services to the MSFC since 1987. One of ten NASA field centers, MSFC has been the lead for the Space Shuttle main propulsion and external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station design and assembly; computers, networks, and information management; and the Space Launch System. MSFC was recently selected to manage the Artemis program for NASA, which aims to put astronauts on the moon by 2024.

“As NASA’s largest solutions provider, we can effectively deliver environmental services that are specific to the mission of the MSFC and other centers, without impacting critical operations,” said Jacobs People & Places Solutions Senior Vice President and Global Environmental Market Director Jan Walstrom.

Under the 5-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract capacity, Jacobs will deliver A-E services for:

  • Environmental compliance, including audits and inspections; hazardous and solid waste; hazardous materials; air; wastewater; storm water; storage tanks; toxic substances; sustainability and pollution prevention; recycling; natural and cultural resources; energy management and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification; National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation; and other federal, state and local regulations.
  • Environmental remediation, including documentation preparation as required under either federal or state implemented Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) programs; field investigations; analytical laboratory services; groundwater modeling; environmental studies; risk assessments and risk evaluations; treatability tests; demonstration projects; corrective measures studies; feasibility studies; engineering design documentation; munitions and explosives of concern investigations; and construction/remediation oversight.
  • Regulatory risk analysis and communications, including reviews of proposed rules and regulations that may affect NASA centers and programs on the federal level and the states in which NASA centers and major contractors are located (Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Virginia). Support also includes evaluating risks to the agency; providing recommendations on risk mitigations for NASA; and evaluating the environmental aspects of manufacturing, testing and operational issues for NASA programs such as the Space Launch System.

Under a separate Engineering Services and Science Capability Augmentation (ESSCA) contract with NASA, Jacobs is providing critical science and engineering and technical support for flagship programs at MSFC including the Space Launch System, the International Space Station and numerous space science and technology development projects.

At Jacobs, we’re challenging today to reinvent tomorrow by solving the world’s most critical problems for thriving cities, resilient environments, mission-critical outcomes, operational advancement, scientific discovery and cutting-edge manufacturing, turning abstract ideas into realities that transform the world for good. With $13 billion in revenue and a talent force of approximately 52,000, Jacobs provides a full spectrum of professional services including consulting, technical, scientific and project delivery for the government and private sector. Visit and connect with Jacobs on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Certain statements contained in this press release constitute forward-looking statements as such term is defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and such statements are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provided by the same. Statements made in this release that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. We base these forward-looking statements on management’s current estimates and expectations as well as currently available competitive, financial and economic data. Forward-looking statements, however, are inherently uncertain. There are a variety of factors that could cause business results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. For a description of some additional factors that may occur that could cause actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements see our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 27, 2019, and in particular the discussions contained under Item 1 – Business; Item 1A – Risk Factors; Item 3 – Legal Proceedings; and Item 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, as well as the Company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company is not under any duty to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release to conform to actual results, except as required by applicable law.

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Exploring 3-D Printing Alongside NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Virgin Orbit

Exploring 3-D Printing Alongside NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

As our aspirations for space grow more ambitious, so too must the ways we build our spacecraft! So we partnered with @NASA_Marshall to study how 3-D printing can be used to build next-gen rocket parts at a fraction of the cost and lead time. Read more:

The satellite world is undergoing a massive upheaval. Thanks to advancements in computing and new manufacturing techniques, even spacecraft with the most critical responsibilities are becoming smaller and more inexpensive. As a result, satellite owners are building them faster and in greater quantities than ever before. Launch service providers like us, then, have a responsibility to build vehicles that can match this rapid evolution — which means we too must explore and implement new techniques, tools and materials.

We’ve been printing key parts of our engines for some time: early on we recognized additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3-D printing, as a great enabler. The great minds at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight think so too, which is why we’ve been putting our heads together for a mutually beneficial project partnership, or Space Act Agreement.

Our joint goal was to study the use of additive manufacturing to build multimetallic combustion chambers. Spoiler alert: this technology will change the way humankind designs and builds rockets altogether.

Combustion chambers are a crucial component of all rocket engines. It’s here that the propellants mix and ignite, generating incredibly high pressure and temperature before accelerating past the speed of sound as they exit the nozzle. The punishing operating environment makes combustion chambers one of the most difficult engine parts to develop while keeping manufacturing time short and cost low.

The benefit of developing multimetallic parts, as we are for our own engines, is that you can take advantage of their distinct properties (such as strength or thermal conductivity) to create a more robust, higher performing end product. The problem is developing such parts can be an excruciatingly slow process… that is, unless you have powerful tools like our hybrid additive-subtractive manufacturing machine.

For this partnership, Virgin Orbit engineers used this hybrid machine to modify combustion chambers designed by NASA. The chamber’s geometry was unchanged from the traditionally manufactured design, but we were able to build it more quickly and out of different materials.

An extensive hotfire test campaign then proved that the unit could hold up under realistic operational conditions, and in fact matched the performance of a traditionally manufactured unit.

We’re taking the lessons learned from this partnership and incorporating them into our own manufacturing development. When we hit our production goals, we’ll see an order of magnitude reduction in both cost and lead time for our engines — and it will be thanks in part to the work we’ve done here with the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Alabama s Marshall to lead NASA lander program in return to moon

Marshall Space Flight Center to lead NASA lander program in return to moon

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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine today announced that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville will lead the agency’s Human Landing System Program for its return to the Moon by 2024.

Bridenstine made the announcement in front of the 149-foot-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket liquid hydrogen tank structural test article currently being tested at NASA’s Alabama installation.

He was joined at the event by U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee.

“We greatly appreciate the support shown here today by our representatives in Congress for NASA’s Artemis program and America’s return to the Moon, where we will prepare for our greatest feat for humankind – putting astronauts on Mars,” Bridenstine said.

“We focus on a ‘One NASA’ integrated approach that uses the technical capabilities of many centers. Marshall has the right combination of expertise and experience to accomplish this critical piece of the mission.”

Informed by years of expertise in propulsion systems integration and technology development, engineers at Marshall will work with U.S. companies to rapidly develop, integrate, and demonstrate a human lunar landing system that can launch to the Gateway, pick up astronauts and ferry them between the Gateway and the surface of the Moon.

Marshall Space Flight Center is the birthplace of America’s space program. It was Marshall scientists and engineers who designed, built, tested, and helped launch the giant Saturn V rocket that carried astronauts on the Apollo missions to the Moon,” Brooks said.

“Marshall has unique capabilities and expertise not found at other NASA centers. I’m pleased NASA has chosen Marshall to spearhead a key component of America’s return to the Moon and usher in the Artemis era.

Huge announcement from @NASA Administrator @JimBridenstine – @NASA_Marshall will oversee & manage the agency’s lunar lander development program. This decision highlights the crucial role #MSFC plays in sending astronauts back to the Moon.

Aderholt said Marshall is the perfect pick to lead the Human Landing System Program.

Marshall Space Flight Center, and North Alabama, have played a key role in every American human mission to space since the days of Mercury 7. I am proud that Marshall has been selected to be the lead for the landers program,” Aderholt said.

“I am also very proud that Marshall has designed and built the rocket system, the Space Launch System, which will make missions to the Moon and Mars possible. We look forward to working with our industry partners and our NASA partners from around the country.”

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center – Space Foundation

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NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

For more than 50 years, the unique capabilities and expertise at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been used to design and build the engines, vehicles, space systems, instruments and science payloads that make possible unprecedented missions of science and discovery throughout our solar system.

Marshall minds designed, built, tested and helped launch the giant Saturn V rocket that carried astronauts on the Apollo missions to the moon. Marshall developed new rocket engines and tanks for the fleet of space shuttles, built sections of the International Space Station and now manages all the science work of the astronauts aboard the ISS from a 24/7 Payload Operations and Integration Center.

Today, Marshall is home to development of the Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever designed to carry human explorers, their equipment and science payloads deeper into space than ever before, to an asteroid and to Mars. Marshall also manages the Michoud Assembly Facility, where the core stage of SLS is under construction with a unique set of leading-edge tools, including the largest spacecraft welding tool in the world, the 170-foot-tall, 78-foot-wide Vertical Assembly Center.

Marshall enables scientific discovery through development and testing of hardware and instruments for projects including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Japanese-led mission Hinode studying the sun.

Engineers and technologists at the Marshall Center consistently deliver highly skilled, crosscutting engineering services — the backbone to mission success and the center’s powerful capabilities — in support of Marshall programs and projects and throughout NASA. Their work serves both the current and near-term planned agency missions as well as efforts still on the drawing board, awaiting the necessary development and maturation to support NASA’s future exploration goals.

Marshall’s history reaches back to the 1950s, before NASA was created in 1958, partially in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, the previous year. A group of Army employees working then on rocket and missile programs at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, included the team of German scientists led by Dr. Wernher von Braun, who was largely responsible for the successful launch of the United States’ first satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. In 1960, NASA established the Marshall Center with the transfer from the Army of more than 4,500 civil service employees and nearly 2,000 acres of Redstone Arsenal property. Von Braun became the Marshall Center’s first director.

Marshall’s location makes it a key player in a “community of capabilities,” located among dozens of federal agencies on Redstone Arsenal, including the Army Materiel Command; Army Aviation and Missile Command; Army Space and Missile Defense Command; Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center; the Missile Defense Agency; and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missiles and Space Intelligence Center. Marshall and Redstone are adjacent to Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research and development park in the nation. The Marshall Center has a critical role in moving the nation forward, offering unique expertise in science and engineering, forging partnerships with industry, academia and other government organizations, and continuing to help the United States lead the world in space exploration and discovery. Marshall’s strengths and proven capabilities support NASA’s goal of integrating science and exploration in innovative ways for maximum return on the nation’s investment.

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama (Employer or MSFC), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute) between it and the Marshall Engineers and Scientists Association, Local 27, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO (Union or MESA).

The Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved pursuant to written submissions from the parties with the Panel to take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Submissions were made pursuant to these procedures and the Panel has considered the entire record.

The Employer’s primary mission is to research and develop the propulsion system for the space shuttle. The Union represents approximately 1,800 engineers and scientists, mainly General Schedule (GS) -13 and above. The parties’ collective bargaining agreement expired on July 15, 1991. The current dispute arose after the Employer was granted authority to construct a new building. Thereafter, the parties agreed to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the general subject of “changes in conditions of employment resulting from physical moves of MESA unit employees into and within new and existing MSFC buildings.”

While the parties are at impasse on a number of issues, their

primary disagreement concerns whether the Employer shall have the

discretion to use “open-landscape design1/” in office areas, including those in the new building.

In essence, the Employer proposes that: (1) it be given the discretion to implement open-landscape design in new and existing

buildings; if such design is used, it agrees to provide unit employees with work space “that is adequate for the performance of the duties of their position,” and make a “reasonable effort” to allocate a minimum of 80 square feet for each unit employee relocated to such an area; (2) with respect to both “open landscape” and “traditional” offices, it agrees to “make a reasonable effort” to locate unit employees assigned to the same

team in the same general area; (3) if a “physical move” covered by the agreement results in a significant change in an employee’s duties and responsibilities, he or she may request a “Position Content Review” in accordance with NASA regulations; and (4) the provisions of the MOU be effective “immediately upon signature of the parties” and “automatically incorporated without further negotiation” into the parties’ new term agreement after the current agreement, scheduled to expire in July 1991, is renegotiated; and that the MOU contain wording specifying that the parties have had “full and fair opportunity to bargain on all aspects of the subject of physical moves of bargaining-unit employees” addressed in the MOU and that it represents “the full and complete agreement on such.”

Concerning the key issue in dispute, the open-landscape concept has been used successfully on a small scale in a number of existing MSFC buildings housing unit employees. In this regard, “recent experience has shown that the use of open-landscape design with modern systems furniture can have a 1/ The Employer defines “open-landscape” offices as “a generally open area with individual workstations with systems furniture.”

very positive effect on the morale of unit employees.” In addition, it would maximize the use of the new building by: (1) eliminating current and projected office space shortages; (2) permitting space previously converted into offices to be reclaimed as much-needed technical facilities; (3) eliminating present and future requirements for off-site leasing of commercial space; and (4) freeing up other space to obtain improvements in operational efficiency and productivity. Moreover, a survey of private-sector companies2/ currently using the open-landscape concept “including Boeing (Huntsville, AL), McDonnell-Douglas (Huntsville, AL), USBI (Huntsville, AL), Digital Equipment Corp. (Atlanta, GA), and American Cancer Society (Atlanta, GA),” confirmed that, overall, it was accepted by employees, cost-effective, and generally problem free. It has the added benefits of providing better climate control capability than traditional floor-to-ceiling offices, and permitting easier and less costly reorganization of office space.

By providing that employees be given work space “adequate for the performance of duties,” its proposal is consistent with the parties’ term agreement. It goes beyond that requirement, however, by obligating the Employer to make a “reasonable effort” to allocate at least 80 square feet for each employee. While it is true that the average space of existing offices is greater than 80 square feet, adoption of its proposal nonetheless could have a positive impact on productivity as many of them are “substandard.”

The Union’s proposal, on the other hand, would provide all unit employees with traditional offices, thereby eliminating the benefits of open-landscape design, and increasing to an unacceptable level construction costs in the new building. Insofar as its wording regarding space allocations would apply to existing traditional offices, it is outside the Employer’s bargaining obligation because there is a provision in the parties’ term agreement covering such circumstances. Further, the part of the proposal requiring the use of NASA’s regulation on office-space allowances is inappropriate in these circumstances because “it was not written from the standpoint of assigning office space to individual employees.” It also could lead to disagreements and

grievances, as could the part of the proposal which specifies that

2/ The results of the survey were summarized in an affidavit provided by the Director of the Employer’s Facilities Office.

“comparable office accommodations after the move” as before the move. Moreover, allocating office space on the basis of grade level is administratively burdensome because it would require tracking the promotions of unit members, and the continual reshuffling of office areas. As to the “evidence” provided by the Union in support of its position, much of it is undocumented. Finally, the part of the proposal providing premium space for employees, and linking such space with the amounts allocated to managers, is ‘bizarre.”

Turning to the other aspects of the dispute, by agreeing to make a reasonable effort to locate unit employees assigned to the same team in the same general area, productivity should be enhanced. In contrast, “it just does not always make sense” to require that all personnel assigned to a particular branch have office space close to all other members of the same branch, as proposed by the Union, because “the facilities, laboratories, and other equipment which the employees use in their daily work are often physically located in various places throughout the Center.” Moreover, by preventing it from assigning employees to offices next to facilities used in their daily work, the Union’s proposal interferes with management’s right to determine the methods and means of performing work, under section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute. Similarly, by preventing it from deciding to abolish laboratories purely for technological or mission-related reasons, parts (4)(a) and (b) of the Union’s proposal regarding unused space and the conversion of laboratory space also interfere with that section of the Statute. In addition, its proposal to permit employees to request supervisory review of the content of their position descriptions should be adopted because it would apply to a “broader range of circumstances” than the corresponding section of the Union’s.

The Union’s proposed wording that no unit employees be moved into new or refurbished buildings until negotiations are completed “is pointless” because “it becomes moot at the time it goes into effect.” The Employer also offers no counterproposal on the issue of the Union’s use of conference rooms in Building 4200, primarily because “there will be more appropriate times to address this question if the preliminary plans” for such rooms become a reality. The proposal also has “nothing to do with physical moves of unit employees.” Finally, MSFC’s proposal on the duration and scope of the MOU differs from the Union’s “only to the extent that it seeks to make clear that the parties have had a full and fair opportunity to bargain on the matters covered by the agreement and that the issues” are closed until the parties next collective bargaining agreement expires. In this regard, “further bargaining on the subject of office moves” until such time “would be inappropriate and contrary to the expressed intentions of the parties.” Contrary to the Union’s view, it does not constitute a waiver, but “is merely a statement of fact.”

The Union essentially proposes that: (1) no unit employee

be moved into a refurbished or new building, and management refrain from announcing or distributing office assignments of unit employees, until negotiations are completed; (2) the Employer adhere to NASA’s regulations concerning “Space Allowance Standards for Office Space,” and (a) all unit employees be provided offices with floor-to-ceiling walls and doors; (b) as a minimum, the amount of office space assigned to employees be determined using NASA standards, which generally correlate amount of office space with GS level; (c) the Employer provide “comparable office accommodations after the move” as before the move; (d) among other things, at least 65 percent of senior unit employees (GS-13 and up) be located in private offices, and that private offices be assigned to unit employees on the basis of seniority “to the extent possible;” and (e) additional office space be provided to unit employees based on the need for extra office equipment and on a formula which correlates such additional space with the amount of office space occupied by the managers in the unit employees’ chain of command; (3) organizational units have offices “located in the same general area, i.e., branches together, teams together, etc.;” (4)(a) MSFC “make a reasonable effort to utilize unused space” by enforcing its own regulations regarding the storage of unused equipment “before any existing laboratories are abolished;” and (b) “if any laboratory space utilized by unit employees is converted to some other usage,” a reasonable effort be made to accommodate the laboratory equipment or functions in another adjacent laboratory,” unit employees be provided adequate time to effect any changes, and

if laboratory functions or capabilities are altered so as to change an employee’s duties or responsibilities, the employee may request the supervisor to consider changing his or her performance plan; (5) it have use of any planned conference rooms on the ground floor of Building 4200 “subject to scheduling;” and (6) the provisions of the MOU be effective immediately upon signature by the parties and automatically incorporated without further negotiation into the parties’ new collective bargaining agreement, to be effected by the parties following renegotiation of the current agreement.

Its proposal on office space and design “is the result of an

extensive effort by the Union to assess the agency proposal’s effect on quality improvement, employee productivity, and employee morale.” The effort has included surveys of several engineering companies which incorporated systems furniture and open landscape in their floor plans, and unit members’ attitudes concerning the proposed office accommodations. “The consensus” at the engineering companies “was that noise levels and other distractions associated with this office concept made the arrangement unacceptable,” but that “due to the sizable investment the companies had in these facilities, some could not afford to abandon it immediately.” Moreover, an open-landscape experiment occurred “several years ago” at MSFC on one floor of a large building involving unit members with job functions similar to those slated for the new building. “By management’s own admission” the experiment was “a dismal failure.” In surveys of its own members, employees “overwhelmingly opposed” the concept because of noise and distractions, as well as “the demoralizing effect of housing degree professionals in 80 square feet stalls.”

The Union’s proposal reflects 30 years of past practice, would

improve morale, and result in greater productivity and efficiency than the Employer’s. It reasonably would require the Employer to use its own clearly-understood regulations when allocating office space, particularly insofar as it provides larger space to more highly-graded employees. The Employer’s proposal, on the other hand, was “developed without total cost/benefit assessment” and “is not based on any demonstrated need.” It also is not as cost effective as alleged, given the high price of systems furniture compared with traditional furnishings. Moreover, if the Employer’s open-landscape experiment proves to be a failure, “it would be financially prohibitive to correct in the future.” The companies visited by MSFC “were generally irrelevant,” which is another indication that it failed to do its “homework by not researching the issues sufficiently.” Finally, among other things, the Employer also has failed to substantiate its claim that open-landscape design would have a positive impact on productivity, nor has it justified “such a costly experiment with our nation’s brightest scientists and engineers.”

With respect to the other issues at impasse, requiring the Employer to hold the implementation of the physical moves of unit employees in abeyance until completion of the negotiation process “is consistent with its obligations under the Statute” and would enhance the efficiency of agency operations. The part of its proposal which would locate the offices of employees in particular organizational units in the same general area would promote productivity and “is the current practice for most of the unit members.”

Part 4 of the proposal concerning “the procedures to be used to lessen the impact of facility utilization on unit employees,” would merely require the Employer to enforce its own regulations regarding facility management, and could prevent employees from having “to travel great distances between workstations to accomplish their tasks.” It also reasonably specifies that if the agency’s actions change an employee’s duties, the supervisor must consider changing his or her performance plan “as mandated by law.” Its proposed wording on the use of conference rooms simply would ensure that management gives the Union the same access to conference rooms that it “freely gives to other organizations.” Moreover, because the subject was raised by the Employer in its initial briefing with the Union, it “is appropriate for negotiations at this time.” The final part of its proposal concerning the duration of the MOU is “essentially what management asked for.” It would be contrary to the interests of the bargaining unit, however, for the Union to accept the Employer’s additional wording and “agree to waive its rights – should management choose to change other conditions of employment relating to employee offices.”

Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we shall order that, for the most part, the Employer’s position be adopted to settle the parties’ dispute. Turning first to their primary area of disagreement, on balance we are persuaded that the Employer should be given the discretion to use open-landscape design in new and existing office areas. In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful that the bargaining unit is composed mainly of highly-graded scientists and engineers who have worked in more traditional offices for many years. It is understandable that such a profound change from previous working conditions would initially evoke some apprehension on the part of employees. The record demonstrates, however, that the Employer has weighed the potential costs and benefits of this part of its proposal, including its impact on the morale and recruitment of employees, and the mission of the agency for which it, and it alone, is responsible. In such circumstances, we are unwilling to withhold from the Employer the right to determine what is in its own best interests. Should a change to open-landscape design ultimately prove unsatisfactory, however, the parties will have another opportunity to address the matter upon the expiration of their successor collective bargaining agreement.

With respect to the remaining issues in dispute, we find unnecessary the part of the Union’s proposal essentially requiring the Employer to delay the implementation of moves of bargaining-unit employees until negotiations are complete. In this regard, the parties should rely on the fully adequate mechanisms provided by the Statute should the Employer implement physical moves of employees prior to the completion of the collective bargaining process. Concerning the location of employees in office areas, we are convinced that the Employer’s proposal is likelier to enhance productivity than the Union’s because it would give management more flexibility to locate individual office areas close to support facilities. The Union’s proposal, on the other hand, could reduce efficiency by requiring entire branches of organizational units to be located in the same general area without sufficient justification. Regarding the dispute over unused space and equipment, in our view, the Union has failed to demonstrate a need for this part of its proposal. Moreover, if it believes that the agency is violating its own regulations on these matters, redress could be sought through the parties’ negotiated grievance procedure. Further, on the portion of the issue dealing with changes in an employee’s duties and responsibilities, we favor the

Employer’s wording because it would permit the review of an employee’s position description whenever a physical move covered by the MOU results in a significant change in such duties. It would, therefore, have a broader application than the Union’s wording, which refers only to changes caused by the reduction or elimination of laboratory functions or capabilities. For these reasons, we shall order its adoption.

We also see no need for the Union’s proposal on the future use of conference rooms in Building 4200. While the topic arguably is within the scope of negotiations over the physical moves of bargaining-unit employees because it was raised by the Employer in its initial briefing with the Union, we are persuaded that it would be more appropriate for the parties to revisit the issue at such time as the existence of the conference rooms is no longer speculative. Finally, since both parties propose, among other things, that the provisions of their MOU be automatically incorporated without further negotiation into their successor collective bargaining agreement, which will be effected by the parties following renegotiation of the current agreement, this shall be part of the Panel’s Order. With respect to the Employer’s additional proposed wording, however, if it “is merely a statement of fact,” as it contends, it appears to be unnecessary. In our view, because it could be interpreted broadly by a third party to constitute a waiver of the Union’s bargaining rights, it shall be excluded from the Order.

Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted pursuant to section 2471.6(a) (2) of the Panel’s regulations, the Federal Service Impasses Panel under section 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

The parties’ Memorandum of Agreement entitled “Physical Moves of Bargaining-Unit Employees” shall include the wording upon which they have previously agreed, as well as the following sections:

Section 1. When MSFC makes the determination that “open landscape” is the most practicable design for an office area, including those offices in Building 4203, MSFC agrees to provide unit employees with work space that is adequate for the performance of the duties of their position. MSFC further agrees to make a reasonable effort to allocate a minimum of 80 square feet for each unit employee relocated to such an area. For the purposes of this agreement, an “open-landscape” office area is defined as a generally open area with individual workstations with systems furniture. With respect to both “open landscape” and “traditional” (i.e., offices with floor-to-ceiling walls) offices, MSFC agrees to

Section 5. MSFC will make a reasonable effort to locate MESA unit employees assigned to the same team in the same general area.

Section 8. In the event that a physical move covered by this agreement results in a significant change in duties and responsibilities of a unit employee, the employee may request a Position Content Review in accordance with Phase I, Section A (page 6) of the User’s Guide to the NASA Performance Appraisal System for Nonsupervisory Employees (dated June 1981).

Section 10. The provisions of this agreement are effective immediately upon signature by the parties and will be automatically incorporated without further negotiation into the new MSFC-MESA collective bargaining agreement which will be effected by the parties following renegotiation of the current agreement scheduled to expire in July, 1991.

Test Stands of the Marshall Space Flight Center, National Air and Space Museum

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Test Stands of the Marshall Space Flight Center

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The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission — to meet President John F. Kennedy’s challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize “…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation.” More important, the episode convinced the administrator that “…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events” of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined “a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching,” as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. “The important thing,” he concluded, “is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy….” The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital.

Webb’s memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency’s Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how “…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program.”(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that “the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind,” Walker believed that “every possible method of documentation …be used.” Artists should be expected “…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race.” He urged quick action so that “the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost,” and hoped that “the past held captive” in any paintings resulting from the effort “will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company.”(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as “the top artist in the U.S. today,” headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth’s brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as “the best of his pupils”; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as “America’s top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency’s step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

“Since we …began,” Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive “press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports.” The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. “The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs.” While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that “our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too.”(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to “defend” the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: “Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program.”(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, “where it can be properly cared for.”(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world’s great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum’s first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson’s portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb’s preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Marshall Space Flight Center: Test Site for NASA s Rockets, Space

Marshall Space Flight Center: Test Site for NASA’s Rockets

Located in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has played a significant role in the American space program. Marshall helped to develop the rockets that carried the first U.S. astronaut into space and those that delivered humans to the moon. Today, the agency is working on the Space Launch System that could one day carry astronauts to Mars.

Shortly before opening the new agency, NASA described the Marshall Center as “the only self-contained organization in the nation which was capable of conducting the development of a space vehicle from the conception of the idea through production of hardware, testing, and launching operations.”

In addition to developing space vehicles, Marshall also participates in scientific programs, helping to develop and test hardware and instruments for projects like the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Japanese-led Hinode mission.


Although the Marshall Space Flight Center wasn’t activated until 1960, its roots were well developed. Years before NASA was established, German immigrant Werhner Von Braun and his rocket team, who had developed the V-2 rocket during World War II, had come to the United States with hopes of developing rockets that would one day travel to space.

Initially assigned at Fort Bliss, Texas, the Von Braun team was later transferred to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. In the 1950s, the team expanded to include hundreds of American engineers and scientists. On Jan. 31, 1958, they used a modified Redstone rocket called Jupiter-C to launch America’s first orbiting satellite, Explorer 1.

Two years later, Von Braun became the director of NASA’s new George C. Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville. On July 1, 1960, the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency transferred the ownership of buildings, land, space projects, property and personnel to the new agency, which was named for Gen. George C. Marshall. Marshall had been the Army chief of staff during World War II, secretary of state under President Harry Truman, and Nobel Prize winner for the economic recovery program that became known as the Marshall Plan. He died in 1959. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the fledgling agency on Sept. 8, 1960.

In 1961, Marshall’s Mercury-Redstone vehicle carried America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, on a suborbital flight. Visitors today can still see the Historic Redstone Test Stand, where the rockets that sent Shepard into space were tested.

Marshall played a vital role in achieving President John F. Kennedy’s admonition of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” The center built the Saturn V rocket that would carry the astronauts on their way to the moon.

“Engineers, scientists, administrators and contractors worked night and day to develop the technology powerful enough to lift the 363-foot tall, 6.2-million pound Saturn V rocket into space,” according to Marshall’s historical website.

Marshall also helped to develop the Lunar Roving Vehicle that carried astronauts across the surface of the moon during the last three Apollo missions. The rover allowed astronauts to travel several miles from their landing craft, set up experiments in a wider area and carry home several pounds of rocks.

In the 1970s, Marshall participated in Skylab, the United States’ first crewed orbiting space station and the first U.S. space program completely dedicated to scientific research. Marshall supplied the Skylab workshop, the four Saturn launch vehicles, the solar observatory, and many of the scientific experiments for each of the three astronaut crews.

“Skylab results included significant discoveries in all experiment disciplines and far more data than anticipated,” NASA said. “It opened the era of comprehensive scientific research in space.”

Women scientists train in the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator in 1975. (Image credit: NASA.)

Also during the ’70s, Marshall helped to develop the space shuttle’s main engines, its solid rocket booster, and its external tanks, as well as a variety of scientific payloads. The agency was responsible for Spacelab, a laboratory carried inside the cargo bay of the shuttle.

When the space shuttle launched on April 12, 1981, it “marked a new era in the history of space flight,” NASA said. “The world’s first reusable space vehicle, powered by Marshall-developed propulsion systems, was thrust into orbit with two astronauts aboard. This new chapter in the history of the Center would feature Marshall at the forefront of the nation’s space exploration efforts.”

After the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster, “Marshall and other NASA centers dedicated their work to ensure that the Space Shuttle propulsion elements would perform safely in the future,” the center’s website says.

On Jan. 22, 1986, four Marshall Center facilities were designated as National Historic Landmarks. The Redstone Test Stand static-tested the first rocket that launched Shepard into space, the last step before flight. The Neutral Buoyancy Simulator mimics the weightless environment as preparation for astronauts traveling into space. The Dynamic Test Stand was used for ground vibration tests of the Saturn V launch vehicle and Apollo spacecraft, for tests involving Skylab, and for ground vibration testing of the complete space shuttle vehicle. The Propulsion and Structural Test Facility became the primary center responsible for large vehicles and rocket propulsion systems. On June 15, 1987, the Saturn V Display, an actual test rocket used in the dynamic testing of the Saturn facilities at Marshall, was also designated as a historical landmark.

Marshall continued to propel science forward by playing a role in the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched in 1990, Hubble continues to awe the world with impressive astronomical images after more than 25 years. Marshall also developed and manages NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which probes the depths of space in the X-ray spectrum.

Marshall today

Marshall is one of NASA’s largest field centers, with over 4.5 million square feet of space. The center boasts test, manufacturing and research facilities. It employs nearly 6,000 civil and contractor employees.

The Space Launch System (SLS) is currently under development at Marshall. The rockets of SLS will carry missions deep into the outer solar system. With the aid of the Orion crew module, also under development at Marshall, the SLS will be able to carry the first humans to Mars.

In 2018, the SLS and Orion were both in the final stages of completion. Marshall plays an important role in the final steps of both.

“SLS testing will continue as the core stage structural test articles for the liquid hydrogen tank, intertank, and liquid oxygen tank arrive at Marshall and are loaded into towering test stands to be pushed, pulled and twisted to simulate flight,” NASA said in a press release.

To test the SLS fuel tank, Marshall constructed a pair of twin towers soaring to 221 feet (67.4 meters) in height. The stand simulated the powerful dynamics of launch and flight. For this test, Marshall was crucial.

“There is no other facility that can handle something as big as the SLS hydrogen tank,” SLS engineer Sam Stephens said in a statement.

The primary elements of Orion’s structure are being assembled at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center by the end of 2018.

The agency manages the Discovery program of focused scientific investigations that complement NASA’s larger planetary exploration missions. Active Discovery missions include the Dawn mission to Ceres and the Kepler planet hunting space telescope. It also manages the New Frontiers program that conducts robotic missions to explore the solar system. The New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno’s mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-Rex, the first U.S. mission to return a sample of an asteroid, are all New Frontiers missions.

Marshall also plays a role in the International Space Station (ISS), the space home for astronauts in orbit. Marshall supports hardware development, workspace nodes, oxygen generation, water recovery systems, and manages science operations for the space station at its Payload Operations Integration Center, which maintains year-round, 24/7 contact with the ISS.

Visiting Marshall

Marshall Space Flight Center is not open to the general public. However, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center serves as the center’s visitor information center. Here, interactive exhibits and unique historical artifacts help visitors to learn more about Marshall’s legacy and ongoing projects. The center’s admission is:

  • Adults (13 and up) – $25
  • Children (5 to 12) – $17
  • Children 4 and under – FREE

Discounts are available for NASA civil servants, retirees, contractors, active military and families. The center is open seven days a week, from 9 to 5, though it is closed for some major holidays.

The Space Rocket Center is home of the U.S. Space Camp and the site of the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

Educational Escapes is a program for elementary and secondary group tours to the Marshall Space Center, and is conducted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Access to Redstone Arsenal requires a badge and prior approval.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn V S-IC Static Test Facility, West Test Area, Huntsville, Madison County, AL – Drawings from Survey HAER AL-129-K, Library of Congress

Photo, Print, Drawing Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn V S-IC Static Test Facility, West Test Area, Huntsville, Madison County, AL Drawings from Survey HAER AL-129-K

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    Do the Access Advisory or Call Number fields above indicate that a non-digital surrogate exists, such as microfilm or copy prints?

    • Yes, another surrogate exists. Reference staff can direct you to this surrogate.
    • No, another surrogate does not exist. Please go to #3.
  • If you do not see a thumbnail image or a reference to another surrogate, please fill out a call slip in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room. In many cases, the originals can be served in a few minutes. Other materials require appointments for later the same day or in the future. Reference staff can advise you in both how to fill out a call slip and when the item can be served.
  • To contact Reference staff in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, please use our Ask A Librarian service or call the reading room between 8:30 and 5:00 at 202-707-6394, and Press 3.

    Cite This Item

    Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

    Chicago citation style:

    Historic American Engineering Record, Creator, Owner National Aeronautics And Space Administration, Boeing Aircraft Corporation, Mike D Wright, Molly Porter, Ron Tepool, Anne Coleman, Liz Suckow, and Tom Behrens. Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn V S-IC Static Test Facility, West Test Area, Huntsville, Madison County, AL . Alabama Huntsville Madison County, 1968. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph.

    APA citation style:

    Historic American Engineering Record, C., National Aeronautics And Space Administration, O., Boeing Aircraft Corporation, Wright, M. D., Porter, M., Tepool, R. [. ] Behrens, T. (1968) Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn V S-IC Static Test Facility, West Test Area, Huntsville, Madison County, AL . Alabama Huntsville Madison County, 1968. Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

    MLA citation style:

    Historic American Engineering Record, Creator, et al. Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn V S-IC Static Test Facility, West Test Area, Huntsville, Madison County, AL . Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .