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John C. Stennis Space Center History
February 3, 2014

Chronology of Significant Events

August 7-8, 2014 NASA takes a big step forward in preparations to test its new Space Launch System (SLS) core stage with a 20-foot repositioning of the Main Propulsion Thrust Article (MPTA) structure on the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis. The 61-foot-high, 1.2-million-pound MPTA was built for testing Apollo/Saturn rocket stages and had to be shifted to accommodate the larger SLS core stage. It also must be extended 100 feet higher.
July 17, 2014 NASA installs RS-25 rocket engine No. 0525 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis in preparation for a series of developmental tests. NASA spent almost a year preparing the A-1 stand for the test series, which represents a major milestone in the agency's return to deep-space missions.
July 13, 2014 Orbital Sciences Corporation launches its Antares rocket with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard for its second contracted cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The launch was powered by a pair of Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 rocket engines tested at Stennis.
April 21, 2014 NASA and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) cut the ribbon at the E-2 Test Stand at Stennis to mark the beginning of a new testing partnership. SpaceX partnered with NASA to test components of its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine on the stand.
January 9, 2014 Orbital Sciences Corporation launches an Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on its first of eight planned cargo missions to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The first stage of the vehicle is powered by two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engines tested at Stennis.
December 18, 2013 For the third year in a row, Stennis ranks at the top of NASA centers and second out of 300 federal agency subcomponents as the best place to work in the federal government, according to a Partnership for Public Service survey.
November 6, 2013 NASA begins a new round of tests on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine on the A-2 Test Stand.
September 18, 2013 Orbital Sciences Corporation launches an Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a test flight cargo mission to the International Space Station. The core stage of the vehicle is powered by two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engines tested at Stennis.
September 9-13, 2013 NASA engineers conduct three days of tests on a fourth-generation HD4B engine on the E-3 Test Stand, including several tests using a 3-D-printed nozzle. The engine is designed to power a prototype Project Morpheus planetary lander that could evolve to carry cargo and technologies safely to space destinations such as asteroids and Mars.
September 5, 2013 NASA completes its series of gimbal, or pivot, tests on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine with a 330-second hotfire on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. The stand now will be modified to test RS-25 engines that will power NASA's new Space Launch System.
June 14, 2013 NASA performs the first in a series of gimbal tests on next-generation J-2X engine No. 10002 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. During the tests, the engine will be pivoted just as it must move during an actual flight to ensure proper trajectory.
May 13, 2013 NASA installs next-generation J-2X engine No. 10002 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis for a series of gimbal, or pivot, tests. It marks the first full engine to be installed on the test stand in almost a decade.
April 21, 2013 Orbital Sciences Corporation launches its Antares rocket on its first test flight, powered by a pair of Aerojet AJ26 engines tested at Stennis. Orbital is partnered with NASA to provide commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station.
February 15, 2013 NASA conducts a test of J-2X engine No. 10002 on the A-2 Test Stand at Stennis, marking the start of a new round of test firings for the next-generation engine.
December 13, 2012 NASA engineers at Stennis conduct the final test-firing of the J-2X powerpack assembly, an important component of the next-generation engine being developed for the space agency.
December 13, 2012 For the second consecutive year, Stennis ranks at the top of NASA centers and second out of 292 federal organizations as the best place to work in the federal government, according to a Partnership for Public Service survey.
November 5-9, 2012 NASA records an historic week in the E Test Complex at Stennis, conducting tests on three different rocket engines/components on three E Complex test stands. The 27 total tests include firings on all three stands during a 24,hour period Nov. 6-7 and a nine-hour-plus period on Nov. 8.
September 25, 2012 Dr. Richard Gilbrech is named Stennis director.
August 16, 2012 Stennis marks a historic moment with the first instance of two female engineers conducting rocket engine tests on the same day at the facility.
July 24, 2012 NASA engineers conduct a 1,350-second test of the J-2X powerpack at Stennis, marking the longest-duration test firing in the facility's A Test Complex. The test breaks a record of 1,150 seconds, which engineers had been set just weeks earlier during a June 8 powerpack firing.
June 25, 2012 A series of tests are conducted in Stennis' E Test Complex on a new Project Morpheus engine. The liquid methane, liquid oxygen engine will power the Morpheus prototype lander, which could one day evolve to carry cargo safely to the moon, asteroids or Mars surfaces.
June 8, 2012 NASA engineers conduct a 1,150-second test of the J-2X powerpack at Stennis, marking the longest-duration test firing in the facility A Test Complex.
April 20, 2012 NASA Administrator Charles Bolden presents the space agency's Small Business Administrator's Cup Award to Stennis in recognition of its stellar small business program for fiscal year 2011.
April 13, 2012 The ribbon is cut for the opening of the INFINITY Science Center. The 72,000-square-foot visitor center features space and Earth science artifacts and activities.
February 15, 2012 &NASA begins a series of tests at Stennis on the new J-2X powerpack component to provide critical data for development of the new rocket engine.
December 14, 2011 NASA concludes the initial 10-test series of firings at Stennis on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine being developed for NASA.
November 16, 2011 Stennis ranks second out of 240 organizations and at the top of NASA centers as the best place to work in the federal government, according to the Partnership for Public Service survey.
November 9, 2011 &NASA conducts the first 500-second test of the next-generation J-2X rocket engine, marking an important step forward in its development. The directors of seven NASA agencies visit Stennis to view the test.
October 25, 2011 Stennis leaders and employees plant a time capsule to culminate a year of activities celebrating its 50th anniversary. NASA publicly announced plans to build the rocket engine test site on Oct. 25, 1961.
August 24, 2011 NASA marks official transfer of 1.6 million square feet of facility space from the U.S. Army to Stennis, setting the stage for years of major expnasion at the south Mississippi site.
August 11, 2011 Stennis employees mark the end of the 30-year-old Space Shuttle Program with a “wheels stop” celebration during the visit of the STS-135 space shuttle Atlantis crew.
July 26, 2011 NASA conducts a successful engine start test on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine at Stennis, marking the start of the third major test series for the historic A-2 Test Stand. The J-2X is being developed as an engine that could carry humans into deep space once more.
July 21, 2011 &Space shuttle Atlantis completes the STS-135 mission, its final flight into space and the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. The shuttle is powered into orbit for the mission by space shuttle main engines No. 2047, No. 2060 and No. 2045, all three of which were tested and proven flightworthy at Stennis.
June 1, 2011 Space shuttle Endeavour completes the STS-134 mission, its final flight into space. The shuttle is powered into orbit for the mission by space shuttle main engines No. 2052, No. 2061 and No. 2057, all three of which were tested and proven flightworthy at Stennis.
May 2, 2011 The main NASA administration building at Stennis is named in memory of lateDirector Roy S. Estess. Stennis officials also announce establishment of the annual Roy S. Estess Public Service Leadership Award.
March 9, 2011 Space shuttle Discovery completes the STS-133 mission, its final flight to space. The shuttle is powered into orbit for the mission by space shuttle main engines No. 2044, No. 2048 and No. 2058, all three of which were tested and proven flightworthy at Stennis.
February 7, 2011 &NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visits Stennis to view the test firing of an Aerojet AJ26 rocket engine to be used by Orbital Sciences Corporation to power commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station.
November 17, 2010 Stennis and community leaders celebrate the “topping out” of the INFINITY Science Center, a 72,000-square-foot science and education facility set to open in 2012.
November 10, 2010 NASA conducts the first successful test firing of an Aerojet AJ26 rocket engine to be used by Orbital Sciences Corporation to power commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. The test is conducted on the E-1 Test Stand at Stennis.
November 9, 2010 Stennis launches a yearlong 50th anniversary celebration with the first presentation in its Legends Lecture Series. NASA publicly announced plans to build a rocket engine test facility in Hancock County, Miss. on Oct. 25, 1961.
August 24, 2010 NASA officials cut the ribbon on a new Records Retention Facility at Stennis to consolidate and protect records storage at the site.
August. 2010 The Stennis education team develops its first-ever teaching curriculum to help educate students about mass vs. weight.
Mid-July 2010 Installation of the test cell and diffuser at Stennis' A-3 Test Stand begins, a major milestone in construction of the new test structure.
July 14, 2010 An Aerojet AJ26 rocket engine is delivered for installation at the E-1 Test Stand as part of Stennis' partnership to help Orbital Sciences Corporation provide commercial cargo transportation missions to the International Space Station.
April 20, 2010 Retired astronaut Fred Haise, a Biloxi native, visits Stennis to help employees mark the 40th anniversary of his famous Apollo 13 mission.
March 1, 2010 Patrick Scheuermann is named Stennis director.
February. 24, 2010 Stennis unveils a partnership with Orbital Sciences Corp. to test Aerojet AJ26 engines to power commercial cargo transport flights to the International Space Station.
December. 2, 2009 Biloxi native and Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise receives NASA's Ambassador of Excellence Award during a ceremony at Gorenflo Elementary School in Biloxi.
July 29, 2009 NASA conducts the last scheduled test of a space shuttle main engine on the A-2 Test Stand at Stennis.
July 2, 2009 Construction of the A-3 Test Stand marks a milestone with completion of a pair of transfer docks to be used for delivery of rocket propellants (or fuel).
June 2, 2009 The new Stennis Emergency Operations Center is officially opened as Gov. Haley Barbour; NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Charles Scales; Stennis Director Gene Goldman and other officials participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 78,688-square-foot facility houses the facility's medical clinic, fire department, security services, energy management control system and incident command post.
April 9, 2009 Structural steel work is completed on the A-3 Test Stand at Stennis. The final beam is ceremoniously placed atop the structure as more than 100 guests and workers looked on.
November 20, 2008 Arthur E. ‘Gene' Goldman is named Stennis director.
October 24, 2008 Fabricated steel begins arriving by truck for construction of the A-3 Test Stand, whichwill be used to test next-generation rocket engines.
October 22, 2008 A flight-certification test on SSME No. 2061, the last space shuttle main flight engine scheduled to be built, is conducted on the A-2 Test Stand.
October 1, 2008 The last space shuttleflight engine scheduled for testing at Stennis (engine No. 2061), arrives.
May 8, 2008 Stennis engineers successfully complete the first series of tests on the Powerpack 1A component as part of early development of the J-2X engine that couldhelp carry humans on deep-space missions. The test hardware consisted of J-2 components used from the Apollo program in the 1960s through the X-33 program of the 1990s.
May 3, 2008 Stennis Director Robert D. Cabana joins a distinguished list of American space heroes with his induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center.
January 31, 2008 A gas generator ignition test on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis marks the first hotfire test on the Powerpack 1A component of the next-generation J-2X engine.
September 30, 2007 Robert D. Cabana is named Stennis director.
September 19, 2007 Core components, known as Powerpack 1A, needed for development of the next-generation J-2X engine are installed on the A-1 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center.
August 23, 2007 NASA officials and government leaders participate in an official groundbreaking ceremony for the A-3 Test Stand at Stennis. Taking part in the event are Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Scott Horowitz and Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech.
June 13, 2007 Tree clearing begins for construction of the new A-3 Test Stand at Stennis.
May 8, 2007 NASA announces a decision to build a new test stand at Stennis Space Center. The 300-foot-tall test stand, featuring an open-frame design, will allow engineers to test rocket engines at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet.
November 9, 2006 The A-1 Test Stand at Stennis is officially handed over for testing next-generation J-2X engines being developed for NASA.
September 29, 2006 NASA conducts the final SSME test to be conducted on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center.
June 5, 2006 NASA announces center responsibilities associated with its Constellation Program for robotic and human moon and Mars exploration. Stennis is named to manage and integrate rocket propulsion testing for the Crew Launch Vehicle Project. The center also is assigned to lead sea-level development, certification and acceptance testing for the upper stage engine; sea-level development testing for the upper stage main propulsion test article; and sea-level acceptance testing for the flight upper stage assembly.
April 21, 2006 An SSME test on the A-2 Test Stand marks the 40th anniversary of the first engine test at Stennis.
January 23, 2006 Dr. Richard Gilbrech is named Stennis director.
September 13, 2005 Bill Parsons is named Stennis director.
August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina makes landfall, battering southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Maps of its track show Katrina's eye moved up the Pearl River and passed directly over Stennis Space Center.
August 11, 2005 A hotfire test on the A-2 Test Stand marks the 30th anniversary of SSME testing at Stennis.
October 5, 2004 Stennis ships the last of space shuttle Discovery's three main engines to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for NASA's Return to Flight following the loss of space shuttle Columbia. All three of Discovery's main engines were tested and proven flightworthy at Stennis. Discovery's STS-114 mission launched July 26, 2005 and safely landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on Aug. 9, 2005.
January 21, 2004 NASA marks a milestone as the SSMEachieves a significant milestone of 1 million seconds of test and flight operations during a test firing at Stennis.
January 5, 2004 Rear Admiral Thomas Q. Donaldson, V (Ret.) is named Stennis director.
May 9, 2003 Michael Rudolphi is named Stennis interim director.
May 9, 2003 Bill Parsons is selected as the manager for NASA's Space Shuttle Program.
August 25, 2002 NASA's Bill Parsons is named Stennis director.
August 5, 2002 Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are held at Stennis for three facilities, valued at more than $60 million, the Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space and Technology Center, the Naval Small Craft Instructional and Technical Training School and Special Boat Unit TWENTY-TWO and the Naval Oceanographic Office Warfighting Support and Survey Operations Center.
April 8, 2002 The launch of shuttle Atlantis on the STS-110 mission marks a milestone for NASA and Stennis as the first flight to use a full complement of the Block II configuration of the SSME.
November, 2001 The E Test Complex at Stennis successfully completes the first phase in an important test series for the integrated powerhead demonstrator (IPD) liquid oxygen turbopump. The IPD Program is developing new technologies for NASA's second-generation propulsion systems.
August 6, 2001 NASA conducts the final test of a three-part test series of electro-mechanical actuator technology used on the former X-33 program's Linear Aerospike XRS-2200 flight engine. The series is conducted at Stennis as part of NASA's Space Launch Initiative.
May 22, 2001 The StenniSphere visitor center and museum receives its 250,000th visitor.
May 2001 Work begins on nearly $24 million worth of upgrades on ETest Complex facilities at Stennis.
April 21, 2001 Stennis opens its doors to more than 13,000 visitors for the first-ever public night test firing of a SSME.
September 29, 2000 A $25 million construction project begins at Stennis for the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School and Special Boat Unit TWENTY-TWO in support of Navy SEAL activity.
September 1, 2000 Location of the Lockheed Martin Propulsion, Thermal and Metrology Center at Stennis is announced.
August 8, 1998 All four large test positions at Stennis are occupied for the first time in center's history.
July 27, 1998 Activation of the E-1 Component Test Facility, a world class high-pressure component cryogenic facility, is initiated at Stennis.
April 15, 1998 The U.S. Navy's Major Shared Resource Center is dedicated and officially named the Trent Lott Supercomputing and Visualization Institute.
February 21, 1997 Stennis is designated as NASA's lead center for implementing commercial remote sensing activities.
July 2, 199 6NASA Headquarters announces Stennis will conduct and manage engine component testing for the X-33 for the RLV program.
May 30, 1996 NASA designates Stennis as lead center to manage capabilities and assets for rocket propulsion testing.
May 19, 1996 Endeavor is the first space shuttle to fly three Block I SSMEs, all tested at Stennis.
March 16, 1996 First test is conducted on a subscale cryogenic fuel tank for the X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program.
May 26, 1995 Stennis completes testing on new Block I configuration SSME.
May 1, 1994 Program management for SSME test operations is transferred from Marshall Space Flight Center to Stennis.
August 11, 1993 The High Heat Flux Facility is dedicated at Stennis to test materials for hypersonic spacecraft of the future.
July 24, 1992 The SSME test project achieves 2,000th test firing.
December 30, 1991 NASA administrator designates Stennis as the Center of Excellence for large propulsion system testing.
August 20, 1990 SSME tests are conducted on all three Stennis test stands in one day for the first time.
January 18, 1989 Construction begins at Stennis on the Component Test Facility to test turbopump machinery for rocket propulsion systems.
November 22, 1988 Roy S. Estess is named acting Stennis director.
May 20, 1988 NSTL renamed John C. Stennis Space Center by executive order of President Ronald Reagan.
May 9, 1988 NSTL assigned key role for space remote sensing commercialization.
February 25, 1988 NSTL conducts 1,000th test firing of SSME.
June 11, 1987 Dedication ceremony is held to open Mississippi Technology Transfer Center at NSTL.
April 21, 1978 First system test of space shuttle main propulsion test article conducted - including three SSMEs tested simultaneously.
March 1978 &Earth Resources Laboratory Applications Software (ELAS) is developed at NSTL and implemented worldwide.
August 18, 1976 Jerry Hlass is named NSTL director.
May 28, 1976 Flag-raising ceremony marks the official move of the Naval Oceanographic Program to NSTL.
August 1, 1975& Henry F. Auter Jr. is named acting NSTL manager.
June 24, 1975 First SSME tested at NSTL to go full duration without an early shutdown.
June 12, 1975 First SSME tested at NSTL to achieve ignition.
May 19, 1975 First SSME test at NSTL. Test did not include ignition.
June 14, 1974 MTF renamed National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL).
March 1, 1971 Space shuttle main engine (SSME) testing assigned to MTF.
September 9, 1970 NASA announces Earth Resources Laboratory will locate at MTF.
April 23, 1966 First Saturn V rocket booster (S-II-T) tested at MTF.
July 1, 1965 MTO designated Mississippi Test Facility (MTF).
June 10, 1965 Jackson M. Balch is named MTO director.
May 17, 1963 Workmen cut first tree to start clearing the test site area for construction.
October 1, 1962 William C. Fortune is named MTO manager.
April 18, 1962 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opens a real estate project office to begin land acquisition negotiations for construction of MTO.
December 18, 1961 NASA's national rocket engine test site is officially named Mississippi Test Operations (MTO).
October 25, 1961 NASA announces decision to establish a national rocket engine test site in Hancock County, Mississippi.
May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy sets goal of sending humans to the moon and returning them safely before the decade is out.
Responsible NASA Official: Paul Foerman, SSC Public Affairs Office

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