NASA cut the ribbon on a new cryogenics control center at John C. Stennis Space Center on March 30, marking near completion of a key project to strengthen protection for liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen barges in the event of another natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina.
The new structure consolidates LH and LOX operations and provides a safe shelter for a disaster ride-out crew. The facility and several related actions also enhance Stennis' capability to remain operational in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Stennis infrastructure hard, leading NASA to conduct an internal study to identify support systems at the site that should be modified or "hardened" to withstand the impacts of future storms. The study cited the need to provide a safe haven for LH and LOX cryogenic barges needed to perform rocket engine testing at the south Mississippi facility.
The McDonnel Group, LLC of Metairie, La., began construction of the new center in October 2008 and completed its work the following fall. The company also began work in 2008 to prepare and activate three barge docks and to install a new LH truck-to-barge fill system. Those projects were completed by the end of 2010.
The dock projects ensure a safe haven for all six LOX and three LH barges at Stennis. The new truck-to-barge fill system provides a critical backup ability to transfer LH from delivery trucks to barges if the existing transfer system ever is damaged.
Jacobs Technology's NASA Test Operations Group provided upgrades to the comprehensive barge loading control and monitoring system. This included the design, installation and activation of a Cryogenics Controls and Instrumentation system in the new control center. The new system is computer controlled and digitally based, compared to the previous manual switching system that used analog displays.
Completion of the safe haven project comes as Stennis celebrates its 50th anniversary year. Built to test first and second Saturn V rocket stages for NASA's Apollo Program, Stennis also tested every main engine used on more than 130 shuttle missions. Stennis now is preparing to test next-generation engines being developed to carry humans into deep space.
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
- end -