‘Fire in the Bucket’ – Stennis Begins Rocket Engine Testing
Workers at what then was known as the Mississippi Test Facility conducted the first static firing of a Saturn S-II-T booster stage on April 23, 1966. The 15-second test shook the morning calm at 7:33 a.m., ushering South Mississippi and Louisiana into the space age. The Mississippi Test Facility would play a key role in the Apollo Program of the 1960s and early 1970s. The facility would become NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center.
The second firing of a Saturn S-II-T booster stage at the Mississippi Test Facility came on May 10, 1966. The testing was considered vital to the Apollo, which would carry humans to the moon and back by the end of that decade. Since those early years, the South Mississippi test facility has become known as NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center and has led America’s space program in rocket engine testing for more than 40 years.
A massive S-II-T Saturn rocket stage is installed on Nov. 18, 1965 for testing on what now is the A-2 Test Stand at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. The S-II-T – known as “T-Bird” – was the first Saturn booster stage to be tested at Stennis, which then was known as the Mississippi Test Facility. Workers at the facility later would test the Saturn V first-stage booster for the Apollo Program that carried humans to the moon and back in July 1969.