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  MSFC: F-1 engine test stand 4696 demolished

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Author Topic:   MSFC: F-1 engine test stand 4696 demolished
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-01-2012 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo F-1 engine test stand demolished at Marshall Space Flight Center

A concrete and metal gantry used to test the first stage engines of the Apollo Saturn V moon rocket was demolished Friday afternoon (Nov. 30, 2012) at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Explosive charges were used to demolish the test stand's concrete towers. Test stand 4696, located in the Marshall Space Flight Center West Test Area, had been inactive since 1969. It was used to fire single F-1 engines, and was officially known as the F-1 engine static test stand. It was much smaller than the 405 foot tall S-IC static stand that was used to test entire Saturn V rocket stages, including multiple F-1 engines.

Last year, after historic preservation activities were complete, the deconstruction of the test stand began. The Marshall Space Flight Center removed the test stand to eliminate maintenance costs and provide space in the test area for modern test facilities.

APG85
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posted 12-01-2012 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sad to see it go but I suppose it was necessary. I hope it was thoroughly photographed before it was removed...

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 12-02-2012 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by APG85:
I hope it was thoroughly photographed before it was removed...
From the Associated Press:
While NASA did a "very good job" documenting the history of the tower in photos and words after the state objected to the demolition, Brown said, losing a structure of such technological importance still hurts.

"I would much rather this test stand stay where it is," [preservation director for the Alabama Historical Commission Elizabeth] Brown said.

...Brown said the state eventually agreed to drop its objections after NASA documented the history of the structure, but she was still sorry to see it go.

dabolton
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From: Round Lake, IL, US
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posted 12-03-2012 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eventually everything has to come down. The march of time destroys the safety and integrity of concrete and steel things. If its of no usable-value and an expense to keep standing, I agree with letting it come down. History rolls on.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 12-05-2012 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Marshall Space Flight Center removed the test stand to eliminate maintenance costs and provide space in the test area for modern test facilities.
There doesn't appear to have been a good justification of the stand's demolition; it was merely done "to comply with NASA's decision to dispose of facilities that have no programmatic requirements beyond 2012, in accordance with the Agency's facility revitalization program."

The State Historic Preservation Officer was not happy about the proposed demolition ("the demolition of a National Register eligible property is a serious issue" ... "cannot concur with the proposed demolition of the NR eligible Test Stand").

He especially objected to the "maintenance costs" being used as a justification:

[T]he figures provided by your office relative to annual maintenance costs of $23,694 versus the cost of demolition at $3.5 million strongly support maintaining the test stand. A cursory review of these costs indicate that the test stand could be maintained at the current annual maintenance cost for approximately 145 years.
Who says civil servants don't have a sense of humor?

The "historic preservation activities" (a Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record Level I documentation effort) was done to placate the SHRO (see the memorandum of agreement on page 70 of that PDF).

I visited Marshall in July 2012, while demolition was underway. The flame bucket had by then been removed, along with a lot of the pipes and such. I undertook a few "historic preservation activities" of my own... I'll see about posting some photos this weekend.

Orthon
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From: Gilbert, Arizona 85296
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posted 12-05-2012 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah - the empire continues to crumble. This structure represented a golden age and there is no good reason not to preserve it.

garyd2831
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From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-05-2012 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, and I was just up at Marshall about a month ago, our nation's space program is dying. Call them whatever, these "future" programs don't have the same drive and motivation as we once have.

This is sad and disappointing that we aren't preserving our history. If the temples can stand for thousands of years, what is $23,000 a year in maintenance cost compared to the millions spent for demolition. Do the math, its doesn't add up... and I stink at public math.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 12-06-2012 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with you — the drive and enthusiasm isn't there. Destroying the artifacts is a sign that the nation no longer cares about space. Yes, it is expensive to preserve it, but when the right politician or celebrity wants something done, the money just flows. We can just hope for the best and try to educate those around us, but expect the worst.

Jim Behling
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
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posted 12-06-2012 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
In my opinion, and I was just up at Marshall about a month ago, our nation's space program is dying. Call them whatever, these "future" programs don't have the same drive and motivation as we once have.

I disagree.
  1. The space program is more vibrant than ever. There are multiple commercial endeavors in work at this time. NASA does not equate to "our nation's" space program. NASA is only the gov't's civilian space program.

  2. NASA is/was a Cold War agency. Its basic task was finished in the middle of Gemini (get ahead of the Soviets) and the icing on the cake was Apollo 11.

  3. There is no need for a gov't arsenal type agency to develop and operate spaceflight hardware. Industry and the market can provide what is needed. NASA is an aberration, there is no comparable agency for other mediums or mode of transportation. Yes, the gov't was needed in the beginning in for early development and operations like the Army flying airmail. But we are now at the point where gov't can be an anchor "tenant" like it did for passenger planes with airmail

  4. NASA exploration of space is/should be much like NOAA's exploration of the environment/oceans. NOAA is not an ocean settlement/colonization agency and neither should NASA.

  5. Space settlement/colonization will be done by NGO's.

garyd2831
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From: Syracuse, New York, USA
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posted 12-06-2012 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess what I'm saying Jim, is that the public knowledge of these future endeavors seems to lack there of. Other than Curiosity that had my eyes glued to the news and the NASA websites, there really isn't any other public knowledge of what is happening.

Of course the news isn't going to advertise a "routine" procedure happening on the space station, but if there was to be some drumming up on how much it is costing us to have our astronauts placed into space by Russia, it might fuels some interest.

While I was born in the late 70s and missed the great Moonshots, I have always looked at these achievements a great and monumental accomplish both for our a nation and for humanity. We need a new national goal that will help create employment opportunities, challenge our students and raise our nations pride. Being a combat veteran and knowing the challenges we face here on the home front,I still believe we can come together and reorganize our priorities to get us back on track.

See our history demolished bothers me because these are the few things that we have to look back on a reflect a greatness. When you think Alabama, you think great college football and rednecks. I'm New York and I think of Alabama a cornerstone to that giant leap our nation took. I'm finishing up here at SOS, Maxwell AFB and only one other person in my flight knew about Marshall SFC. They didn't even know how much of a role it played and most when I offered to take them there for a tour just seem disinterested. I'm not saying everyone has to like the same things that we do, but it just shows where our nation's priorities are heading... to reruns of "Jersey Shore"... one of the worst shows ever created. Just my brain dumping thoughts during lunch.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-06-2012 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm all for saving history but I don't think you need to save everything to be responsible to the future.

This test stand was retired in 1969; the full-up S-IC test stand, which is a protected historic site, encompasses everything and more this stand represents (not to mention the F-1 test stand(s) still standing and soon to be put back into use at Stennis Space Center).

Until recently, it wasn't even possible for the public to see this stand because general tours of MSFC were shutdown for years. Those tours have begun again but even with my strong interest in space history, I would rather spend more time seeing the S-IC stand than splitting time with a single F-1 test stand...

Jim Behling
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
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posted 12-06-2012 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
When you think Alabama, you think great college football and rednecks. I'm New York and I think of Alabama a cornerstone to that giant leap our nation took.
I work in the business and one of my past employer's divisional headquarters was in HSV. I was a von Braun worshiper when I was younger and I am a spaceflight history buff. Still don't associate Alabama with MSFC but college football and rednecks.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
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posted 12-07-2012 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
the full-up S-IC test stand, which is a protected historic site

There are a dizzying array of groups willing to call something a "historic site," but I do not believe tha any have declared the S-IC test stand a "protected" historical site.

While the American Society of Mechanical Engineers long ago declared the S-IC test stand a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, MSFC's history office has a page listing its National Historic Landmarks; neither the F-1 nor S-IC test stands are on the list (although the Redstone Test Stand, the Static Test Tower [S-I and S-IB static test], and the Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand do appear on the list).

NASA's Cultural Resources (CRGIS) site lists "National Register of Historic Places eligible or potentially eligible structures". The S-IC test stand (Bldg 4670) is on the same "eligible or potentially eligible" list as the F-1 test stand (Bldg 4696), and we know how well that worked out for the F-1 stand.

quote:
I would rather spend more time seeing the S-IC stand than splitting time with a single F-1 test stand...

I don't think you really mean what this sounds like it means. Because you would rather see the S-IC stand than the F-1 stand, it's OK to tear down the test stand you favor less? What do you say to the people who'd rather see the F-1 stand than the S-IC stand? Or those who would spend the time to see both?

Let's hope that there aren't more like minded people who, because they think that Apollo 11 at NASM is more important and people should spend more time seeing it, would be fine with scrapping Friendship 7 and Gemini 4. Or perhaps someone will decide that, since Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and thus had a larger role in shaping the country, Monticello will be kept but Mount Vernon will be razed.

Unlike Hangar S at the Cape or the LUT, there don't appear to have been any maintenance-, safety-, or environmental-related issues with the F-1 test stand (in fact, as the Alabama SHPO pointed out, it would have been much cheaper to continue to maintain it than to demolish it). The test stand merely had "no programmatic requirements beyond 2012," and so it must go.

I realize that the stand hasn't been used since the Apollo days and that it is unlikely to have been used again. With the larger population of Huntsville, it would likely have been difficult to justify the noise issues to the public. Politically, it seems more likely that any necessary engine firings would take place at Stennis, which is NASA's designated engine test facility.

Which means that the test stand basically falls into the same category as left-over Saturn Vs and the various rocket displays and engine displays which dot the landscape at Marshall -- no practical value, and requiring a bit of upkeep, but still an important part of history.

On a related note, the Cold Calibration Test Stand (Bldg 4588), used to test H-1 and F-1 turbopumps, is also slated for demolition. It, too, is on the same "NRHP-eligible" list as the F-1 and S-IC test stands and appears on the Historic American Engineering Record.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-07-2012 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mikej:
I don't think you really mean what this sounds like it means. Because you would rather see the S-IC stand than the F-1 stand, it's OK to tear down the test stand you favor less?
You're right, it's not about personal preference; it's about picking your battles.

NASA does not have it within its charter to preserve every one of its facilities as historic sites. And given the way that its limited budget is appropriated on a year to year basis, it cannot plan for the long-term upkeep of anything, let alone an abandoned test stand.

NASA will continue to destroy facilities it no longer has use for as a matter of course, because it has the money to do so then and there. The savings spread over years is meaningless.

So with that in mind, if every time a NASA facility is demolished the space history community raises objections, then when it comes time to save something of great importance (and of feasible nature), the impact of our voices will be lessened. It's not a 'boy cries wolf' situation as real historic sites are being destroyed, but it will be easier to dismiss the community's concerns when the time comes as the message won't be heard as different than in times past.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
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posted 12-09-2012 07:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've posted my photos of the F-1 Engine Test Stand on my web site.

Cozmosis22
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From: Texas * Earth
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posted 12-10-2012 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
The space program is more vibrant than ever.
Ask any American. The US space program is dormant, not vibrant.
quote:
NASA is/was a Cold War agency.
NASA was supposed to be a space exploration agency, set up specifically as a non-military outfit.
quote:
There is no need for a gov't arsenal type agency to develop and operate spaceflight hardware.
There would be no people in space without significant federal investment. That fact stands still to this day.
quote:
NASA exploration of space is/should be much like NOAA's exploration of the environment/oceans.
NOAA should be a minor subset of NASA not a huge bureaucracy all it's own. The gov't has often been involved with exploration and settlement, and still has it's fingers in the US railroad system.
quote:
Space settlement/colonization will be done by NGO's.
If we wait for private enterprise alone to "colonize" space... it will never happen.

Jim Behling
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 12-21-2012 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
Ask any American. The US space program is dormant, not vibrant.
That is not relevant. Many of the same unwashed masses don't think that the US landed on the moon. What the public thinks and what reality is are two different things.
quote:
NASA was supposed to be a space exploration agency, set up specifically as a non-military outfit.
That doesn't change the fact that it was a Cold War agency. It's main task was to project soft power. Space exploration was just the method/medium used to accomplish the task.
quote:
There would be no people in space without significant federal investment. That fact stands still to this day.
It doesn't mean that it has to continue. There is no benefit to the US Gov't.
quote:
The gov't has often been involved with exploration and settlement, and still has it's fingers in the US railroad system.
Involvement and performing the tasks are two different things. The exploration and settlement was not performed by gov't civil servants using hardware/equipment produced by gov't contracts. The gov't contracted explorers or provided incentives for some of the settlers. But it was gold and resources that drove the westward expansion and not the gov't.
quote:
If we wait for private enterprise alone to "colonize" space... it will never happen.
Then it doesn't need to happen. There is no reason for the US gov't to colonize or settle other worlds. There needs to be market.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 04-06-2013 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently obtained some photos of the final demolition of the F-1 Engine Test Stand, which I've posted on my web site.

I've also posted some photos of the test stand from the pre-demolition documentation effort.

AlanLawrie
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From: hitchin, herts, UK
Registered: Oct 2003

posted 04-07-2013 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AlanLawrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outstanding coverage of this event on your web site Mike! Where else would we get this coverage? Thanks.

Jim Behling
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 11-12-2013 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
In my opinion, and I was just up at Marshall about a month ago, our nation's space program is dying. Call them whatever, these "future" programs don't have the same drive and motivation as we once have.

I disgree.
  1. The space program is more vibrant than ever. There are multiple commercial endeavors in work at this time.

  2. NASA is/was a Cold War agency. Its basic task was finished in the middle of Gemini (get ahead of the Soviets) and the icing on the cake was Apollo 11.

  3. There is no need for a govt arsenal type agency to develop and operate spaceflight hardware. Industry and the market can provide what is needed. NASA is an abreation

  4. NASA exploration of space is/should be much like NOAA's exploration of the environment/oceans. NOAA is not an ocean settlement/colonization agency and neither should NASA.

  5. Space settlement/colonization will be done by NGO's.

Gonzo
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Posts: 428
From: Lansing, MI, USA
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 11-12-2013 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I both agree and disagree with you Jim.

I believe the intent of the question is the national space program, i.e., NASA (and supporting agencies). That is no longer the vibrant, enriched program it once was and I agree with Gary in that we no longer have the pride (and interest) in it we once had. That being said, the other various space programs going on (commercial) are vibrant. And I agree with you from this perspective. But it is natural that it goes this way. In order for space interest to go anywhere, it is time for commercial enterprise to step up and play their part now.

As far as losing interest, I grew up during Apollo. And I don't believe you could have found any American at the time that didn't know at least something about the program. Maybe not some of the details we understand, but they knew about it and why it was important. You can't say that today. Granted everyone knows about the ISS. But how many know that we are sending our astronauts up on Russian rockets? That we no longer do that? Maybe some, but I work with a guy that didn't even know the shuttles were done. (Yes, I enlightened him.)

So no, NASA is no longer the Cold War-era agency it once was. Nor should it be. And that is typical of new areas of research. Look at all the other scientific areas that the government started because we needed it and then slowly backed away from it as the commercial market geared up to take it where it needed to go. Case in point — the internet. It was started as a research idea by DARPA. It then transitioned to a means for universities to share research information. Look at it now. But the point is, it started as a government research project that the government no longer has much involvement.

And part of the lack of interest today is due to the "routine-ness" of space flight now. The reason that Curiosity garnered so much public interest (and even that was a flash in the pan) was because it was something new and exciting. When you put up 135 shuttle flights, sooner or later, they are bound to get "routine". And that, IMO, hurt NASA as a whole. While it was doing great research in space with the shuttles and the ISS, there was no "big" discoveries to fuel public interest. And that is where commercial enterprise comes in. It is now up to commercial exploration to pave the way to the next generation of space flight. Whether that be pure research (which I doubt) or to public trips at reasonable costs (more likely to fund the continued research), it will happen. The genie is now out of the bottle, letting ordinary people to do what only a select few, at tremendous government cost, could do just a couple short decades ago.

All times are CT (US)

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