NASA Space Centers

NASA Space Centers

To run the Apollo program there were NASA centers for program management, research, mission design and mission planning, testing, flight simulation, astronaut training, launch operations and mission control.

The actual development and construction of the flight hardware were done by various contractors like Boeing (S-IC stage), Grumman Corporation (lunar module), Douglas Aircraft Company (S-IVB stage), North American Aviation (S-II stage, command & service modules), Rocketdyne (rocket engines) and IBM (instrument Unit). The locations of these contractor facilities are shown on another map in another page.

The role of the centers in the Apollo program:

NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field
This is the center where the rocket engine running on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen has been developed. Hydrogen as a fuel was essential to keep the payload mass fraction within reasonable limits. All these efforts eventially has led to the successful development of the J-2 engine manufactured by Rocketdyne, The J-2 engines were used in the S-II stage (five engines) and the S-IVB stage (single engine).

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
GSFC was responsible for the management and operations of the communication networks. GSFC was also responsible for the design, management, and operation of the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN)

NASA Headquarters
The building houses NASA leadership which provide overall guidance and direction to the US government executive branch agency NASA, under the leadership of a NASA administrator.

Langley Research Center (LaRC or NASA Langley)
In this center the Apollo command module and the Lunar lander were developed and tested.

The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)
MSFC is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest NASA center where the large Saturn launch vehicles were developed for the Apollo Moon program.

Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
This center was formally known as the Launch Operations Center (LOC) but was renamed as KSC in 1963.
This center encompasses the Launch Complex and the Industrial Area some 6 km away.
The Launch Complex contains the two launch pads, the Verticial Assembly Building (VAB) where the 112 meter tall Saturn V launch vehicles were stacked and the Launch Control Center (LCC) containing three firing rooms.
The Industrial area contains facilities to prepare the Apollo spacecrafts (CSM + LM) and the flight crew.

The John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC)
This center is a NASA rocket testing facility. Static test firing of the first stage with its huge F-1 engines, each capable of producing 750 Tons of thrust, and the second stage with its J-2 engines, each producing 90 Tons of thrust, were conducted here.

Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF)
MAF is a huge assembly facility, it is part of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
The Saturn I, IB stages and the huge Saturn S-IC stages were assembled in this facility.

Johnson Space Center (JSC)
This center was formally known as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) but was renamed as JSC in 1973.
JSC is the Center for mission analysis & design, mission planning, mission management & control and mission training.

White Sands Test Facility (WSTF)
This test facility was used to test the abort system. That Launch Escape System encompasses a small solid-propellant rocket which was attached on top of the commmand module to pull the module away from the launch vehicle in case of emergencies.

Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC)
Since March 1, 2014 this center is named the Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC)
At this center the Lunar Landing Research Vehice (LLRV) was developed to study and analyze piloting techniques to fly and land the Apollo Lunar landing Module. The LLRV was also used to train the flight crew.

The center, with its vast area, also has test facilities to test rocket engines. The huge F-1 rocket engine has been tested at this site.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
This research center has played an important role in exploring the Lunar surface in preparations of the Apollo Lunar Landings.
JPL has sent a lot of probes for hard landings (Rangers) and soft landings (Surveyors) to make detailed pictures of the Lunar surface and to conduct analyses of the Lunar soil.

Ames Reseacrh Center (ARC)
The ARC did research on the physics of atmospheric re-entry of the Apollo command module. ARC had wind tunnel facilities to create hypersonic flight conditions.

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Copyright 2020 by Sander Panhuyzen
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