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The Space Shuttle Program - Space Shuttle Program Organization

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The Space Shuttle Program (SSP) is administered and operated by NASA, with the help of thousands of contract employees. Figure 4.8 shows the locations of key NASA and contractor facilities involved in the SSP. Strategic management of the program is handled at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is where major decisions are made about future missions.

Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, is home to the operational offices of the program. This office administers the Space Flight Operations Contract, a six-year, $7 billion contract originally signed in 1996 between NASA and United Space Alliance (a joint venture between the Boeing and Lockheed Martin corporations). United Space Alliance performs day-to-day operation of the space shuttle program. The original contract included two two-year extension options, both of which have been exercised by NASA. The estimated worth of the first extension was $2.8 billion, while the second extension was valued at approximately $3.6 billion. The contract expires at the end of September 2006; however, a new contract is expected to be developed to take its place. As of 2005 United Space Alliance employed more than 10,000 people. Most of these people work at JSC, the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama.

JSC also hosts the mission control center, astronaut training, and shuttle simulation facilities. KSC supplies the shuttle launch and landing facilities; maintains and FIGURE 4.8 Locations of NASA human space flight programs "Map," in Columbia Accident Investigation Board: Report Volume 1, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, August 2003, (accessed January 31, 2006)overhauls the orbiters; packages components for the orbiter laboratories; and assembles, tests, and refurbishes motors for the solid rocket boosters (SRBs). Most of the contractor personnel working at KSC fall under the Space Flight Operations Contract administered at JSC.

Manufacturing contracts for the shuttle program are overseen by NASA at the MSFC. Major contractors include Boeing, United Technologies Corporation's Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, and ATK Thiokol Propulsion. These companies manufacture the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) and SSME turbopumps, the external tank (ET), solid rocket motors (RSRM), and reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panels for the thermal protection system (TPS). MSFC is also involved in the research and development of payloads that fly on the shuttles.

The shuttles' main engines and external tanks are tested at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The Dryden Flight Research Center is located at Edwards Air Force Base in California. This is the back-up landing site for the shuttle.

Other NASA Centers assist the SSP by developing or testing shuttle components or fuels at their facilities. The shuttle thermal protection system is developed at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The highly toxic fuels called hypergols that are used to run the orbiter's maneuvering system and reaction control system are tested at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. The orbiter structure is tested in wind tunnels at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Since the 1990s the number of workers dedicated to the SSP has declined sharply from more than 30,000 in 1993 to fewer than 12,000 in 2005. The vast majority were contractor employees working for United Space Alliance under the Space Flight Operations Contract.

The Space Shuttle Program - Space Shuttle Missions [next] [back] The Space Shuttle Program - Space Shuttle Flight Profile

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