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NASA Selects ACMI as Second Approved Exploration Park Facility

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NASA Selects ACMI as Second Approved Exploration Park Facility

Editor’s note: This release was updated March 1, 2024, to adjust a quote provided by the company involved.

NASA and the American Center for Manufacturing and Innovation (ACMI) signed an agreement Thursday, Feb. 29 to lease underutilized land in a 240-acre Exploration Park at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. ACMI will enable the development of facilities to enable commercial and defense space manufacturing.   

The agreement is the second such public/private lease agreement to allow industry and academia to use NASA Johnson land to create facilities for a collaborative development environment that increases commercial access and enhances the United States’ commercial competitiveness in the space and aerospace industries. NASA signed a similar lease with the Texas A&M University System earlier this month.

Calling it the Space Systems Campus, ACMI plans to incorporate an applied research facility partnered with multiple stakeholders across academia, state and local government, the Department of Defense and regional economic development organizations.

“For more than 60 years, NASA Johnson has been the hub of human space exploration,” said NASA Johnson Director Vanessa Wyche. “This Space Systems Campus will be a significant component within our objectives for a robust and durable space economy that will benefit not only the nation’s efforts to explore the Moon, Mars and the asteroids, but all of humanity as the benefits of space exploration research roll home to Earth.”

As the home of Mission Control Center for the agency’s human space missions, astronaut training, robotics, human health and space medicine, NASA Johnson leads the way for the human exploration. Leveraging this unique role and location, Exploration Park will play a key role in helping the human spaceflight community attain U.S. goals for the commercialization and development of a robust space economy by creating an infrastructure that fosters a multi-use environment where academic researchers, aerospace companies and entrepreneurs can collaborate with NASA. Exploration Park will create an infrastructure that allows for a multi-use space hardware development environment, where academic researchers, aerospace companies and entrepreneurs can collaborate on space exploration’s greatest challenges.

“ACMI is proud to support NASA and the broader commercial space industry in this important project”, said John Burer, founder of ACMI. “ACMI will develop this campus to serve the needs of a variety of stakeholders, with an emphasis on scaling emerging technologies and space systems manufacturing. We will be working closely with tenants and stakeholders to develop specialist capabilities that pair with NASA Johnson capabilities and advance the commercialization of robotics, autonomous systems and materials science as they apply to space systems.”

NASA issued an announcement for proposals for use of the undeveloped and underutilized land near Saturn Lane on June 9, 2023, and has just completed negotiations with ACMI to formalize the lease agreement. The parcel is outside of Johnson’s controlled access area and adjacent to its main campus. NASA will lease the land for 20 years with two 20-year extension options, for a potential of up to 60 years.

In the coming years, NASA and its academic, commercial, and international partners will see the completion of the International Space Station Program, the commercial development of low Earth orbit, and the first human Artemis campaign missions establishing sustainable human presence on the Moon in preparation for human missions to Mars.

Johnson already is leading the commercialization of space with the commercial cargo and crew programs and private astronaut missions to the space station. The center also is supporting the development of commercial space stations in low Earth orbit, and lunar-capable commercial spacesuits and lunar landers that will be provided as services to both NASA and the private sector to accelerate human access to space. Through the development of Exploration Park, the center will broaden the scope of the human spaceflight community that is tackling the many difficult challenges ahead.


Kelly Humphries
Johnson Space Center, Houston