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Officials Cut Ribbon on IESB at NASA Langley
October 17, 2014

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Steve Jurcyzk, Center Director at NASA's Langley Research Center, initiated a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown Friday before officially opening the Integrated Engineering Services Building, the second building in the center's 20-year revitalization plan.

Guests at the ribbon cutting ceremony included NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Lesa Roe and several state and federal officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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"For almost 100 years we've been a world-class multidisciplinary research and development center, solving some of the agency's toughest challenges," Jurczyk said. "This building, and our long-term plan, will make us more responsive to evolving programs, projects and technologies, with improved technical capabilities and significantly lower costs."

The $52-million, 138,000-square-foot facility will house the center's Engineering, Research, and Systems Analysis and Concepts directorates. It will also serve as the center's premiere collaboration space.

Langley's revitalization plan calls for the construction of eight state-of-the art facilities and the demolition of several aging structures. Over the life of the plan, officials project savings of $105 million in maintenance and utility costs, and $141 million in deferred maintenance.

The first building in the plan, NASA Langley's Headquarters, opened in 2011. Ground-breaking for the next building — the Computational Research Facility — is set to happen this month.

Roe, the former director of Langley who spearheaded the revitalization project, cited the IESB an important step in advancing the agency's capabilities, particularly as researchers continue to puzzle out the origins of the universe and prepare to send manned missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

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"Addressing infrastructure is a key part of that," she said. "So I congratulate NASA Langley for really being out in front, making that happen, and making the future a reality."

One of the ways the building will help make the future a reality is by saving the agency money.

Designed with energy efficiency as a priority, the IESB will use less than half the energy per square foot than the center average. A geothermal exchange field with 140 wells dug to a depth of 400 feet will help keep it cool.

In addition to saving the agency money, Gov. McAuliffe said the new facility could have a positive economic impact by making Hampton Roads more attractive to new businesses, particularly those with robust research and development operations, and particularly in a time when the region is still feeling the pinch of government sequestration.

"We need to grow and diversify to bring those new businesses on … we do that by building on our assets," he said. "This asset that we have here today is what allows us to do that."

McAuliffe was one of several of government officials who spoke at the ceremony. U.S. representatives Scott Rigell and Bobby Scott also gave brief remarks, as did Hampton Mayor George Wallace and Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration Sara Manzano-Diaz.

In addition to providing work and collaboration space for the directorates, the IESB also collects existing NASA Langley functions and services, including the Reid Auditorium, Pearl Young Theater, training rooms, distance learning services, and cafeteria, catering and exchange shop amenities, under a single roof.

Designers incorporated two shout-outs to NASA Langley's history in the IESB's architecture as well. Upstairs, in a skylight recess, crews installed two enormous wooden fan blades from the historic 30- by 60-Foot Tunnel, which had been in operation for more than 64 years when it closed in 1995. On the first floor, mounted in the ceiling of the Splashdown Café, there's a scale model of an Orion heat shield.

As he snacked on hors d'oeuvres in the bright, airy hallway outside the Reid Auditorium following the ceremony, Doug Weber, a standard practice engineer for model systems at the center, admired the "open, inviting area" and said he looked forward to using the space for collaborative work.

"Bringing all the functions together is a good idea," he said. "Having the Navigation Center here and all the training classes, along with the common spaces — it's a good idea."

Visitors strolled through the facility, and learned about the building’s features through a series of narrated tour stops.

They stepped inside the building’s Flight Mission Support Center, where researchers will monitor or control missions into space or Earth’s upper atmosphere. They took a peek into the Engineering Design Studio built with collaboration in mind. And they ducked into the Navigation Center where classes and workshops spur creativity, team building and professional growth for Langley’s workforce.

Kasia Grzelkowski, chair of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said she was struck by the facility’s emphasis on collaboration. “That demonstrates a great strength at NASA Langley, which is such a critical part of our infrastructure and future economic potential in Hampton Roads.”

Asteroid mission

Beyond the walls of the new building, Grzelkowski and other visitors got to see some of Langley’s work on NASA’s ambitious Asteroid Redirect Mission.

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NASA is developing plans to identify, capture and redirect a small asteroid or a piece of a large asteroid to orbit the moon, then send astronauts to visit it and collect samples in the 2020s.

At NASA Langley, researchers are working on part of the mission called the Option B Capture Sequence. Under that scenario, a robotic vehicle would land on the surface of a large asteroid. There, it would use mechanical arms and grippers called microspines to retrieve a boulder.

Dan Mazanek, Langley’s Option B study lead, explained that work at Langley focuses on testing the unpiloted vehicle’s mechanical legs, limbs that would allow the spacecraft to perch on and leap from an asteroid’s surface.

On an ultra-smooth floor in Langley’s Spacecraft Structures and Dynamics Lab, a model of an asteroid boulder floated on air bearings in a two-dimensional simulation of microgravity. Next to it, operators briefly flexed two robotic legs, which also floated millimeters above the floor.

This will allow researchers to test concepts and learn what tools and techniques will lead to success in space.

“I liken this to the Wright brothers flyer,” Mazanek said. “If we’re successful with this, it’s kind of the first flight, the first time we try to do this. The Wright flyer looks nothing like the airplanes that we fly today, but the principles are the same.”

Back at Building 2102, the day’s festivities were starting to wind down, but the pride about the center’s newest building was still running high.

Jurczyk said Karen R. Jackson, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, told him after the ceremony that she was taken with the IESB and all the possibilities it offers.

“She could see how we’re going to use it to advance the research and engineering that we need to meet the agency’s goals and objectives,” Jurczyk said. “She was really impressed.”

Joe Atkinson and Sam McDonald
NASA Langley Research Center

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Officials cut the ribbon on NASA Langley's Integrated Engineering Services Building on Friday, Oct. 17. The event also included tours of the new facility and a stop to see NASA Langley's work on the Asteroid Redirect Mission.
Image Credit: 
NASA/Gary Banziger
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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for NASA Langley's new Integrated Engineering Services Building on Friday, Oct. 17.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for NASA Langley's new Integrated Engineering Services Building on Friday, Oct. 17.
Image Credit: 
NASA/David C. Bowman
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Several NASA, state and federal officials were on hand Friday, Oct. 17, to cut the ribbon on NASA Langley's Integrated Engineering Services Building.
Several NASA, state and federal officials were on hand Friday, Oct. 17, to cut the ribbon on NASA Langley's Integrated Engineering Services Building.
Image Credit: 
NASA/David C. Bowman
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During a tour following the ribbon cutting ceremony, researchers demonstrated technology that could be used to retrieve a piece of an asteroid during a future space mission.
Image Credit: 
NASA/David C. Bowman
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Page Last Updated: October 21st, 2014
Page Editor: Joe Atkinson