John C. Stennis Space Center Designated a Historic Site
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will officially designate the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi as a Historic Aerospace Site during a ceremony today [April 10] at SSC. A historic marker will be unveiled to commemorate the role SSC has played over more than 40 years as America's largest and most important rocket engine test facility. The text on the marker sets forth the historic importance of SSC:
Born of the vision of President John F. Kennedy for America to "...commit itself to achieving the goal... of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth..." , this rocket propulsion test complex was created to flight-certify all first and second stages of the Apollo Saturn V rocket. The first test-firing occurred on April 23, 1966. Subsequent to the Apollo Program, these test stands were modified to support the testing requirements of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. Every American who traveled to the moon, and every astronaut who has traveled into space aboard the Space Shuttle, did so on rocket stages and engines that were first proven flight-worthy on these test stands.
In honor of the steadfast support that the "Mississippi Test Facility," as it was known for many years, received from U.S. Senator John Stennis, in 1988 on his 87th birthday it was renamed in his honor. AIAA's designation of Stennis Space Center as a Historic Aerospace Site is a part of SSC's two-week celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In addition to its historic role, SSC remains an important part of America's space exploration activities. It is currently testing components for the J-2X rocket, which will power the upper stage of the new crew launch vehicle, Ares I. SSC has also become an important catalyst for developing new enterprises and high-tech employment.
AIAA established the Historic Aerospace Sites Program in January 2000 to promote the preservation of, and the dissemination of information about, significant accomplishments made in the aerospace profession. In addition to Stennis Space Center, some of the other sites recognized by the AIAA History Technical Committee are the original Bendix Aviation Company in Teterboro, New Jersey; the Boeing Red Barn in Seattle; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; the site of the first balloon launch in Annonay, France; Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Tranquility Base on the moon.
AIAA advances the state of aerospace science, engineering, and technological leadership. Headquartered in suburban Washington, D.C., the Institute serves over 35,000 members in 65 regional sections and 79 countries. AIAA membership is drawn from all levels of industry, academia, private research organizations, and government.