Location: Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
General Description: Back in 1961, NASA selected the 13,500 acre site in Mississippi, known then as the Mississippi Test Facility, to be the center for testing all the rockets that would eventually take astronauts to the moon and back. In 1965, it was renamed the Marshall Space Flight Center and in 1988 it became the John C. Stennis Space Center. The rocket testing complex includes the A-1 and A-2 test stands which are smaller than the massive B-1/B-2 test stand, were designed to test and certify the second stage of the Saturn V rocket used to propel the Apollo Missions and the J-2 rockets of the Space Shuttle Missions. The B-1/B-2 test stand is a dual-position, vertical, static-firing stand built in the 1960s to test the first stage of the Saturn V rocket and modified to test the main engines of the Space Shuttle. In the 1990s a new complex of smaller testing facilities, named the E test stand complex was constructed to test new smaller engines and multiple component engines. Also located at the Stennis Space Center are the National Buoy Center of NOAA, the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility of USGS, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command of the US Navy, and various research centers for the Mississippi State University and The University of South Mississippi.
1) While visitors are not allowed on the campus of the Stennis Space Center, they can visit the Infinity Space Center located south of I-10 from the space center. This is an interesting hands on facility, mostly for kids, that highlight the ecological work, space research, and rocket testing that goes on at the space center. We enjoyed our time there during the week when we had the facility mostly to ourselves without a lot of kids around.
2) You can also purchase tickets for a bus tour of the Stennis Space Center at the Infinity Space Center. This was a very informative tour to the Stennis Space Center facilities where we learned about the other activities currently going on on the Center outside of NASA, as well as, some good views of the huge test stands. It was well worth the expense, although we were only allowed off of the bus once for a quick picture with a test stand in the background.