NASA facilities

NASA field centers

NASA facilities exist across the United States, but also across the world. NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC provides overall guidance and political leadership to the agency.[1] There are 10 NASA field centers, which provide leadership for and execution of NASA's work. These field centers are: Ames (Research), Armstrong (Flight Research), Glenn (Research), Goddard (Space Flight), JPL (Space Flight), Johnson (Space), Kennedy (Space), Langley (Research), Marshall (Space Flight), Stennis (Space).[2][3] All other facilities fall under the leadership of at least one of these field centers.[4] Some facilities serve more than one application for historic or administrative reasons. NASA has used or supported various observatories and telescopes, and an example of this is the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. In 2013 a NASA Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) Report recommended a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) style organization to consolidate NASA's little used facilities.[5] The OIG determined at least 33 of NASA's 155 facilities were underutilized.

NASA field centers

Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC conducts scientific investigation, development and operation of space systems, and development of related technologies. Goddard scientists can develop and support a mission, and Goddard engineers and technicians can design and build the spacecraft for that mission. Goddard scientist John C. Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on COBE. GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the Space Network and the Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), is one of the best known NASA facilities. It has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on pause, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program from three pads at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is the fourth-largest structure in the world by volume[6] and was the largest when completed in 1965.[7] Located on Merritt Island, Florida, the center is north-northwest of Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean, midway between Miami and Jacksonville on Florida's Space Coast. A total of 13,100 people worked at the center as of 2011. Approximately 2,100 are employees of the federal government; the rest are contractors.[8]

Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was together with ABMA one of the agencies behind Explorer 1, the first American space mission and also together with ABMA one of the first agencies to become a part of NASA. It is located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena [9] on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network.

The Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. Armstrong is NASA's premier site for aeronautical research and operates some of the most advanced aircraft in the world. It is also the home of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), a modified Boeing 747 designed to carry a Space Shuttle orbiter back to Kennedy Space Center if one lands at Edwards. On December 31, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 404–0 to rename the centre previously known as Dryden in honor of Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the surface of the moon;[10] President Barack Obama officially signed the change into law on January 16, 2014 [11]

John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field (GRC) located in Brook Park, Ohio, was established in 1942 as part of NACA, and was later incorporated as a NASA laboratory for aircraft engine research. In 1999, the center's name was officially renamed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field after John Glenn, an American fighter pilot, astronaut and politician. Glenn supports all of the agency's missions and major programs. Glenn excels in researching and developing innovative technologies for both aeronautics and space flight. A multitude of NASA missions have included elements from Glenn, from the Mercury and Gemini projects to the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station. The center's core competencies include air-breathing and in-space propulsion and cryogenics, communications, power energy storage and conversion, microgravity sciences, and advanced materials.

George C. Marshal Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is the place where the Saturn V rocket and Spacelab were developed. It is one of the largest center of NASA. Marshall is the agency's lead center for Space Shuttle propulsion and its external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station (ISS) design and assembly; together with computers, networks, and information management. Located on the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, MSFC is named in honor of General George Marshall.

Ames Research Center wind tunnels

Ames Research Center (ARC) at Moffett Field was founded on December 20, 1939 as a NACA laboratory, and became part of NASA in 1958, as part of the turnover from NACA. The center was named after Joseph Sweetman Ames, a founding member of the NACA. ARC is one of NASA’s 10 major field centers and is located in California's Silicon Valley. Historically, Ames was founded to do wind-tunnel research on the aerodynamics of propeller-driven aircraft; however, it has expanded its role to doing research and technology in aeronautics, spaceflight, and information technology. It provides leadership in astrobiology, small satellites, robotic lunar exploration, intelligent/adaptive systems and thermal protection.

Langley Research Center

Langley Research Center (LaRC) is the oldest of NASA's field centers, located in Hampton, Virginia, United States. LaRC focuses primarily on aeronautical research, though the Apollo lunar lander was flight-tested at the facility and a number of high-profile space missions have been planned and designed on-site. Established in 1917 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the Center currently devotes two-thirds of its programs to aeronautics, and the rest to space. LaRC researchers use more than 40 wind tunnels to study improved aircraft and spacecraft safety, performance, and efficiency. Between 1958 and 1963, when NASA started Project Mercury, LaRC served as the main office of the Space Task Group, with the office being transferred to the Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center) in Houston in 196263.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's center for human spaceflight training, research and flight control. The center consists of a complex of 100 buildings constructed on 1,620 acres (656 ha) in Houston, Texas, USA including the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center.[12] Johnson Space Center is home to the United States Astronaut Corps and is responsible for training astronauts from both the U.S. and its international partners. It is often popularly referred to by its central function during missions, "Mission Control". The center grew out of the Space Task Group formed soon after the creation of NASA to co-ordinate the US manned spaceflight program. A new facility was constructed on land donated by Rice University and opened in 1963. On February 19, 1973, the center was renamed in honor of the late U.S. president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson.[13][14] JSC is one of ten major NASA field centers.

The John C. Stennis Space Center, located in Hancock County, Mississippi, on the banks of the Pearl River at the MississippiLouisiana border, was NASA's largest rocket engine test facility until the end of the Space Shuttle program. It is currently used for rocket testing by over 30 local, state, national, international, private, and public companies and agencies. It contains the NASA Shared Services Center.[15]

Other facilities

Canberra Deep Space Communication, Australia

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a ground station that is located in Australia at Tidbinbilla outside Canberra. The complex is part of the Deep Space Network run by JPL. It is commonly referred to as the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and was officially opened on 19 March 1965. The station is separated from Canberra by the Coolamon Ridge, Urambi Hills and Bullen Range that help shield the city's radio frequency (RF) noise from the dishes.

The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University is a major contractor.


List of major facilities

Space flight and space centers
Test and Research facilities

See also


  1. Shouse, Mary (July 9, 2009). "Welcome to NASA Headquarters". Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  2. "NASA Visitor Centers | Explore America's Human Space Flight". Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  3. Freudenrich, Craig (2007-06-11). "NASA Research Centers". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  4. "NASA Center Assignments by State". NASA. 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  6. Beattie, Rich (20 December 2011). "World's Biggest Buildings". Time Inc. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  7. "Senate". Congressional Record: 17598. September 8, 2004.
  8. Dean, James (17 March 2011). "NASA budget woes leads to layoffs". Federal Times. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  9. Jpl.Nasa.Gov. "Directions - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory". Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  10. "House passes bill to rename NASA facility for Armstrong". Spaceflight Now. 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  11. "NASA Center Redesignated for Neil Armstrong; Test Range for Hugh Dryden".
  12. NASA. "Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center". Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  13. "Houston Space Center Is Named for Johnson". The New York Times. February 20, 1973. p. 19.
  14. Nixon, Richard M. (February 19, 1973). "50 - Statement About Signing a Bill Designating the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center". Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  15. Dubuisson, Rebecca (July 19, 2007). "NASA Shared Services Center Background". Retrieved July 15, 2009.
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