Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John C. Stennis Space Center
Construction of the 13,500 acre (55 km²) Mississippi Test Operations complex began in October, 1961. Due to their isolation, the facility's large cement and metal test stands were deemed the ideal place to test-fire the first and second stages of the enormous Saturn V rockets. Each of the engines that sent men to the moon in the late 1960s were tested here; not a single one failed during the course of the Apollo missions.
In the 1990s, a new test complex named "E" was constructed to test a variety of new engine concepts. A series of tests conducted there eventually led to the commercialization of hybrid rocket motors, one of which was used to power the first privately funded spaceship, Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne.
The facility has been renamed several times in the course of its short history, becoming the Mississippi Test Facility in 1965, the National Space Technology Laboratories in 1974, and taking its present name in 1988 in order to honor the late Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis for his unwavering support of the national space program.
Since its beginnings as a testing facility, the Stennis Space Center has become a home to over 30 government agencies and private companies. Some of the most prominent of these include:
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Data Buoy Center
- A branch of the Naval Research Laboratory
- The Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space and Technology Center
- The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command
- The University of Southern Mississippi's High Performance Visualization Center
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