National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

NASA Site Tours

Site tours of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center ( will be available directly following lunch on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 22, and Friday morning, August 25. When registering, attendees should indicate which day they would like to tour the facility. Tuesday’s tour is tailored towards foreign nationals with access to some of NASA test facilities. Friday’s tour is only for American citizens. Limited space is available for tours, so early registration is encouraged.

West Test Area
Built in the 1960s, the West Test Area has been used for hundreds of test firings in support of the U.S. space program. The Saturn V rocket’s first-stage engine, the F-1, and Space Shuttle Main Engines have been tested there. Two new structural test stands for the Space Launch System are currently being finished. These test stands will subject the liquid Hydrogen and Oxygen tanks to the same loads and stresses they will endure during launch.

East Test Area
Built in the 1950s and 1960s, the East Test Area was designed to develop and test various missiles and rockets, beginning with the Redstone rocket. Hundreds of tests have been conducted there on rocket engines, as well as the Space Shuttle and the Saturn I and Saturn I-B rockets. The refurbished Hot Gas Test Facility located here, which generates flow speeds up to Mach 4 and high heat rates to test materials and coatings.

The Payload Operations Integration Center (POIC)
 Located within the HOSC at Marshall, is the primary NASA ground system responsible for integrated operational payload flight control and planning for the ISS. It provides payload telemetry processing, command uplink, and planning capabilities for a large number of local Cadre flight controllers and remote ISS payload users and other facilities located throughout the world. The POIC provides a secure integration point for planning all ISS operations.

Environmental Test Facility (ETF)
Marshall’s ETF provides various environments allowing a customer to test and qualify hardware prior to launch. The environments include the vacuum environment of space, the in-cabin environment of spacecraft and the natural environment seen by a vehicle on the pad prior to launch.

Thermal Protection System (TPS) Development Facility
The TPS Development Facility is used to characterize materials and provide data on equipment and processing parameters to support large-scale TPS applications. The Facility provides the ability to apply both primers and spray on foam insulation (SOFI) materials to large-scale test articles in various orientations.

X-ray and Cryogenic Facility (XRCF)
XRCF is an adaptable space environment simulation facility that has been enabling technology development and pre-flight verification of space missions since 1991. As the Agency’s premier cryogenic optical test facility, the XRCF enables the development and pre-flight evaluation of large direct-incidence telescope mirrors and structures in relevant thermal environments to 20 Kelvin. As the world’s largest x-ray optical test facility, the XRCF enables development, performance, and calibration testing of grazing-incidence x-ray optics, detectors and telescopes. The facility’s capability bas been utilized in the development and verification activities of NASA flagship missions such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory ( and the James Webb Space Telescope (

SLS System Integration Lab (SIL) and Thrust Vector Control (TVC) Test Lab
The SIL and the TVC Test Lab provide integrated test environments for the Space Launch System’s flight software and avionics hardware. SIL supports end-to-end integrated avionics and software integration, check-out, verification, and validation. The Thrust Vector Control Test Lab supports the development, certification and qualification testing of control mechanisms, primarily Thrust Vector Control (TVC) actuators and systems. The SIL and the TVC Lab can also be integrated together to develop and test multiple components of avionics and software to provide an even more comprehensive early integration to support programs and projects.

Propulsion Research Lab
Engineers and Researchers use this facility to conduct state-of-the-art prototyping and experimental activities investigating a wide range of technologies including nuclear thermal and electric propulsion, pulsed high power system for plasma/fusion propulsion, cryogenic fluid management and launch/in-space vehicle systems.