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Taking Michoud Into the Future
NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana has been a key asset to the space agency's exploration missions, from the Apollo/Saturn Program to the Space Shuttle Program. Drawing on the facility's proven expertise and skills in the assembly and manufacture of large space systems and hardware, Michoud is poised to continue this legacy as NASA looks to the future of exploration -- to return astronauts to the moon and travel to destinations throughout the solar system.

Michoud also includes one of the world’s largest manufacturing plants with 43 acres under one roof and a port with deep-water access, providing for transportation of large space systems and hardware.

These capabilities, along with a proven workforce, are a long-term benefit to development of NASA's next-generation space transportation systems. In addition, the facility is large enough to serve multiple programs and projects supporting the agency's exploration goals.

Changes in Store for Michoud

Today, the primary responsibility of Michoud is supporting the Space Shuttle Program in the manufacture and assembly of the shuttle external tank. It's a role Michoud has performed for more than 30 years. NASA now plans to move from this single program approach to a multiple-program approach. This means multiple contractors performing NASA work activities at Michoud and sharing the facility and its capabilities.

As NASA prepares for shuttle flyout in 2010, the agency is gearing up for the transition to and ramping up of work for the Constellation Program, which is responsible for development of NASA’s next-generation of crew exploration and launch vehicles and related systems and technologies for exploration of the moon, Mars and destinations beyond.

Michoud has been selected by NASA to support several major exploration projects. The facility will manufacture large structures and composites for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, the spacecraft that will carry up to six astronauts to space, and will manufacture and assemble the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.

The Michoud site also includes more than 220 acres of green, or open, space -- prime land for new office, manufacturing and test facilities. NASA is assessing possible collaborative partnerships with industry and academia to utilize this land.

These partnerships also could provide opportunities for more highly-technical training in manufacturing processes for employees, further advancing Michoud's expertise and skill base.

These projects will ensure Michoud remains a key player in carrying out NASA's primary objective of continuing a robust space exploration program that will aid in advancing our nation's scientific, economic and security interests.