Press Release

NASA Administrator Visits Marshall Spaceflight Center

By SpaceRef Editor
December 9, 2015
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Administrator Charles Bolden will visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, and talk about the agency’s progress on its journey to Mars, including upcoming rocket hardware testing and the astronaut recruitment process. Members of the media are invited to view construction progress of the stand developed to test the core stage of the Space Launch System’s (SLS) ability to withstand the rigors of launch, and speak with Bolden at 12:15 p.m. CST.

In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars, NASA will begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates Dec. 14 through mid-February. Those astronauts may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers, including the agency’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle which will launch on SLS.

SLS leaders and experts, astronaut Butch Wilmore, and industry partners will accompany the administrator to see progress on Test Stand 4693, which is being built in Marshall’s West Test Area. The tower will facilitate the structural testing of NASA’s new rocket that will enable deep space exploration including the agency’s journey to Mars and beyond.

The test stand comprises two steel towers designed to support the rocket’s massive liquid hydrogen tank – which stores the cryogenic liquid hydrogen to feed the vehicle’s four RS-25 engines. Dozens of hydraulic cylinders will push, pull, bend and twist the core stage’s liquid hydrogen tank to subject the tank and hardware to the same loads and stresses it will endure during launch.

Elevated to 184 feet already with 18 of 21 levels completed, the structure has added a new profile to the Huntsville skyline, and will be an impressive 215 feet tall when finished in late 2016.

Media interested in covering Bolden’s visit should contact Jennifer Stanfield in the Marshall Public & Employee Communications Office at 256-544-0034 no later than Friday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. CST. Media must report to the Redstone Arsenal Joint Visitor Control Center at Gate 9, Interstate 565 interchange at Research Park Boulevard, by 11:45 a.m. Dec 14. Vehicles are subject to a security search at the gate. News media will need photo identification and proof of car insurance.

For more information on SLS, visit:

For more information on the agency’s journey to Mars, visit:

For more information about astronaut recruitment, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.