NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, joined with Evolution Space on Oct. 10 to announce plans for the aerospace company to establish production and testing operations for solid rocket motors onsite.
“This is another great addition to south Mississippi’s commercial space engagement,” Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech said. “Evolution Space gains access to critical NASA Stennis infrastructure and expertise as it continues to build its propulsion capabilities. In turn, we continue frontline work with commercial companies as we support NASA’s commitment to increase access to space and grow our federal city. We look forward to working with Evolution Space.”
The announcement grants access for Evolution Space to establish its Minor Scale Propulsion Center, while also opening the door to a larger future presence at the center. It also marks the first time in NASA Stennis’ 62-year history to support production and testing of solid rocket motors, and continues the center’s efforts to maximize use of its unique location, operating model, and propulsion infrastructure and capabilities by commercial aerospace companies and others.
“By partnering with NASA, we are able to rapidly stand up a facility which will add considerable capability to the US solid rocket motor industrial base,” said Manny Ballestero, a U.S. Army veteran and Evolution Space vice president of production and development. “We look forward to the future of our partnership as we continue to expand our presence at Stennis.”
Under the arrangement, Evolution Space gains access to previously vacant NASA Stennis facilities to mix, cast, and store propellants. The company’s production facility is expected to be operational by spring 2024. It also will use the E-3 Test Complex at NASA Stennis to conduct solid rocket motor hot fires onsite for the first time. Evolution Space will provide all equipment, components, and electrical systems needed for a blended team of company and NASA personnel to test the motors.
“Evolution Space is moving fast and scaling with purpose,” added Josh Marino, U.S. Navy veteran and vice president of operations at Evolution Space. “We see our collaboration with the NASA Stennis propulsion center as a strategic expansion to help meet the growing demands of both the commercial and defense sectors.”
The news represents the latest collaboration between NASA Stennis and a commercial aerospace company. The nation’s largest propulsion test site, NASA Stennis features a secure setting and 125,000-acre acoustical buffer zone that enables 365/24/7 operations and testing. Historically, the site has supported propulsion projects that use liquid fuels and oxidizers as propellants. For solid rocket motors, fuel and oxidizer are mixed together into a solid propellant.
“This is an exciting agreement for NASA Stennis,” said Duane Armstrong, manager of the NASA Stennis Strategic Business Development Office. “It is yet another demonstration of the value of the center and its ability to support a range of commercial aerospace companies.”
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
Note: The rapid lease of NASA Stennis facilities for Evolution Space to mix, cast, and store solid rocket motors was made possible by a public-private partnership between NASA Stennis and the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET). MSET, located at NASA Stennis, spurs regional economic development by facilitating collaborations among public and private entities.
C. Lacy Thompson
Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi