National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Marshall Space Flight Center

Fiscal Year 1998 Annual Report

The 1998 Annual Report for the Marshall Space Flight Center covers the activi- ties from October 1, 1997, through September 30, 1998, and includes the Center State m e nt

of the Director

Financial Statements. FY98 proved to be another excellent year for the Center. As evidenced in the roles of Center of Excellence for Space Propulsion and key mission roles in Space Transportation Systems Development, Microgravity Research, and Space Optics Manufacturing Technology, Marshall plays a pivotal role in the future of the Agency.

Space transportation systems made great strides in meeting the technological challenges required to enable the next generation of reusable launch vehicles (RLV’s). The year marked the beginning of hardware delivery for the X-33. Another technology demonstrator, the X—34 with the Marshall-developed Fastrac engine, also met key programmatic milestones. These efforts provide significant technology information to aid U.S. industry in building a full-scale RLV to meet the goal of substantially lowering the cost of space access. The Shuttle program propulsion elements continued to perform safely with increased reliability and reduced costs. We witnessed the first flight of the Super Lightweight Tank and the Shuttle Main Engine Block IIA configuration.

The Microgravity Research program continued broad, productive Earth-based and space-based research. A new treatment for influenza, developed with the aid of information from space-grown crystals, continues to advance through the drug development and approval process. Improvements in plant growth Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) by Quantum Devices have helped advance photodynamic cancer therapy, and improved and extended the lives of children with brain cancer.

Over the past year our optical manufacturing technology team has designed, developed, and tested numerous optical systems and technologies to help us better view and understand our universe. The Chandra optical system was tested at the Marshall Center in a new test facility. The launch of Chandra in the summer of 1999 promises untold discoveries.

Along with Unity, the U.S. Laboratory and the Airlock module were built by the Boeing Company in Marshall facilities in support of the International Space Station (ISS) effort. Additional Marshall responsibilities include the development and delivery of ZSS integration hardware, the EXPRESS Rack, and integration and operation of JSS science experiments. Knowledge gained on the /SS will provide the fundamental building blocks for space commerce, and Marshall employees will help make it happen.

FY98 proved again the outstanding dedication and commitment of the Marshall employees. The accomplishments illustrate the scope of research and technology activities at the Center. It is through that dedication and effort that we will accomplish our mission of “bringing people to space—bringing space to people.”


Arthur G. Stephenson MSFC Center Director

Our goal: Establish MSFC as number one in safety

within NASA.

Marshall’s safety philosophy: Senior management commitment to flight crew, employees, facilities, and

program hardware safety.

NASA is committed to mission first—safety always. MSFC’s safety goal is to be number one in safety within the Agency. In 1998 MSFC continued its unique and innovative management techniques to improve safety performance. Current safety processes include the collocation of key Safety and Mission Assurance personnel in the major project offices and at contractor plants; maintaining safety of flight while transitioning from oversight to insight and

reducing Government Mandatory Inspection Points on Shuttle projects; senior management safety reviews of all MSFC payloads; Internet web pages with payload assurance information; the Center employee Safety Concern Reporting System; the use of state-of-art system safety tools for hazard identification and control; risk assessments to prioritize management decisions on corrective actions; and MSFC Safety Day Stand- Downs.

IEO of Contents

= Introduction 1 E Strategic Implementation 2 E Science and Technology Highlights 4 = Institutional Highlights 21 m= Public Outreach 24 = Overview of Financial Statements 30 = Financial Statements 32 = MSFC Notes to Financial Statements 34 = Supplemental Financial Information 43

= Acronym List 47


The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), a field center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was

established on July 1, 1960, with the transfer of land, buildings, property, space projects, and personnel from the United States


The Marshall-developed Mercury- Redstone vehicle boosted America’s first astronaut on a suborbital flight in 1961. Marshall’s first major program was the development of the Saturn rockets, the largest of which sent man to the Moon in 1969 and Skylab into orbit in 1973. Other successful projects in Marshall’s history include the Lunar Roving Vehicle (1971), the three High Energy Astronomy Observatories (1977, 1978, and 1979), the Hubble Space Telescope (1990), and the Marshall-developed propulsion systems which launched America’s first Space Shuttle.

Marshall remains one of NASA’s largest field centers, occupying over 1,800 acres in Huntsville, Alabama, and employing over 2,800 civil servants. This number includes employees in resident offices at prime contractor’s facilities and at the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. In 1998, Marshall’s budget allocation was $2.33 billion, resulting


Area 1,841 Acres Buildings


Square Feet

Replacement Cost

Qne-of-aKind Facilities

MSFC Employment (FY98) Gvil Servants 2,822

e 1,609 With B.A/B.S. Degrees

e 468 With M.S. Degress

e 147 With Ph.D. Dregrees Contractors


Contracts (FY98) MSFC manages 934 active contracts,

in a direct impact of $722 million on the Alabama economy.

During the past fiscal year, approximately 25,106 contractor personnel were engaged in work for the Center. An additional

1,606 contractors were associated with International Space Station work being done by the Boeing company in Huntsville, and other Agency contracts.

Marshall’s vision is to be the world’s leader in space transportation systems, microgravity research, and space optics manufacturing technology, and to be a vital resource for the development and utilization of key scientific missions that will advance the frontiers of knowledge and human exploration. The employees of MSFC remain committed to this vision which is evidenced by their accomplishments over the past year, and their dedication to mission success in the future.

valued at $16.6 billion, awarded to contractors in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

MSFC Workforce by State* Alabama California Louisiana


Forida Massachusetts Illinois Tennessee Texas


(@0) 0k ele) Connecticut

Marshall Space

Flight Center FY 1998 Annual Report

Foreign VUIESEST O o] New Jersey Minnesota Maryland New York alle) Arizona Wisconsin Kansas Qher States Total

* Qvil servants, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors

MSFC FY 1998 Annual Report

Strategic Implementation

Marshall's mission—bringing people to space, bringing space to people.

The Space Shuttle docked with Mir.

Solar X-Ray Imager testing in the X-Ray Calibration Facility.

The NASA Strategic Plan defines the Agency’s vision and mission and provides a basis for the Agency to manage its affairs effectively and efficiently. It enables critical decisions to be made regarding resource allocation and implementation activities, and establishes a process that ensures decisions are consistent with the goals, objectives, and strategies outlined in NASA's Strategic Plan and Performance Plan.

NASA has established four Strategic Enterprises as a business framework for making management decisions necessary to implement NASA’s mission. They include the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise, the Aero- Space (AS) Enterprise, the Space Science (SS) Enterprise, and the Earth Science (ES) Enterprise. Each Enterprise has a unique set of goals, objectives, and strategies that define how programs will be developed and delivered to external and internal customers.

Since the first MSFC Implementation Plan was issued in November 1996, Marshall employees have continually strived to achieve the goals and objectives defined in NASA’s Strategic Plan. The Implementation Plan is the means by which strategies are established which enable Centers to carry out the requirements of the Enterprises through the programs and projects assigned. Included are assigned support activities and crosscutting functions necessary to assure the success of NASA’s mission.

The Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise is dedicated to providing safe and affordable access to space, using the space environment to expand scientific knowledge, enabling the commercial development of space, sharing knowledge and technologies which enhance the quality of life on Earth, and preparing for human missions of exploration to the far reaches of the solar system. Marshall supports this Enterprise through its mission area assignment for Space Transportation Systems Development,

Microgravity Research, and as the Center of Excellence for Space Propulsion. MSFC engineers are working to lower the cost of access to space by studying methods to lower operations, development, and manufacturing costs while increasing performance and enabling aircraft- like operability. Through Marshall’s responsibility for implementing the Agency’s microgravity initiatives, scientific and commercial researchers are able to generate new knowledge, products, and services that improve the quality of life on Earth. In support of the HEDS goal of safe and affordable access to space, Marshall is charged with developing and managing upgrades to the Space Shuttle Propulsion Systems which improve safety margins and increase lift capacity. Marshall is leading the development of advanced Earth-to- orbit and in-space propulsion systems and technologies required to expand the human presence in space.

The mission of the Aero-Space Enterprise is to enable the commercial expansion and exploration of space, provide world-class research and development services to support industry and government, and revolutionize air travel and aircraft manufacturing which in turn enables continued U.S. leadership in global civil aviation. As NASA’s Lead Center for Space Transportation Systems Development and as the Center of Excellence for Space Propulsion, Marshall has implemented the Advanced Space Transportation Program (ASTP) and the RLV Technology Program. The ASTP and RLV programs are complementary space transportation technology development efforts. The

RLV program addresses near-term technology required for a next- generation reusable launch vehicle while the ASTP generates advanced space transportation technologies for future needs which are not addressed by the RLV program and required to meet the ambitious goals of cost reduction. Under the RLV program, Marshall is managing the development and testing of the X—33 and X—34 flight demonstrators.

The Space Science Enterprise aspires to probe deeper into the mysteries of the Universe, develop revolutionary technologies to support space science programs enabling future human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, and contribute to the education goals of our Nation by sharing the excitement and inspiration of our missions and discoveries. Marshall’s work in selected areas of astrophysics and space physics include high- resolution x-ray imaging and polarimetry, high-sensitivity gamma- ray astronomy, high-energy cosmic rays, solar magnetic fields, and low- energy space plasma physics. Marshall’s mission area assignment in space optics manufacturing technology is vital in fostering research and development to advance the state of the art in optical manufacturing and testing. MSFC’s responsibilities for managing scientific payloads and research include the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO)—formerly known as the Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF), the Gravity Probe-B, the Solar X-Ray Imager, and the Solar B. Chandra, NASA’s next major orbiting observatory, assures as many new astronomical discoveries regarding the violent x-ray universe as the Hubble Space Telescope provided in visible ultraviolet and infrared light.

The mission of the Earth Science Enterprise is to expand scientific knowledge of Earth systems using NASA’s unique capabilities. Sharing this knowledge with the public and private sectors will enable the technology to be used to better

understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human- induced changes on the global environment. Marshall supports this Enterprise primarily through the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC), a joint venture with the State of Alabama Space Science and Technology Alliance and the Universities Space Research Association. The GHCC focuses on using advanced technology to observe and understand the global climate system and apply this knowledge to areas such as agriculture, urban planning, water resource management, and operational meteorology. Ground, air, satellite, and Space Shuttle-based experiments have provided invaluable knowledge concerning the global water cycle, the physics of lightning, global

Artist’s concept of the CXO in orbit. The CXO, NASA's most powerful x-ray telescope, was fully assembled in FY98 with the integration of the spacecraft, the telescope, and the integrated science module (ISM).

temperature data, and the impact of human activity as it relates to global and regional climate.

Strategic implementation at NASA is necessary to ensure that limited resources are used wisely in the mission for which we are responsible. Marshall Space Flight Center can be proud of the tradition we have forged in the Nation’s space program. Further, we can be excited about the role we will play in the future through support of all NASA Strategic Enterprises and maintaining NASA’s reputation as the world leader in access to space. The Marshall team is well prepared for this challenge and looks forward to meeting the mission —bringing people to space, bringing space to people.

GHCC scientists used remote sensing to study ancient Mayan ruins.

Advanced Space Transportation and Technology

As NASA's Center of Excellence for Space Propulsion and as the Lead Center for Space Transportation Systems, Marshall is responsible for various efforts committed to research, develop, verify, and transfer space and related technologies. This work mainly supports the Aero-Space Technology Enter- prise. These activities are supported by partnerships with other NASA centers, the Department of Defense, and other government agencies. In addition, the Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise Mission is supported via the accomplishment of goals aimed at providing safe and affordable human access to space and enabling the commer- cial development of space. Significant progress in developing the technology required to enable the next generation launch vehicle and future transportation systems was achieved in

fiscal year 1998.


Marshall’s Space Transportation Programs Office manages the X—33 Advanced Technology Demonstrator, which is being built in partnership with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. As part of NASA’s RLV Program, the X-33 is the largest X plane, demon- strating technologies for single stage to orbit. The demonstrator is a 273,000-pound, wedge-shaped prototype launch vehicle which will launch vertically like a rocket, fly up to 260,000 feet at speeds approaching Mach 15, and land like an airplane. Fiscal year 1998 saw accomplishment of critical design review allowing the fabrication and assembly of the X—33 technology demonstrator to proceed. The official groundbreaking for the launch site at Haystack Butte on Edwards Air Force Base was held in November of 1997. Vehicle assembly then began with the delivery of the upper and lower and thrust structure caps and the composite thrust structure web. The placement of the liquid oxygen tank in the vehicle assembly tooling, and successful flight testing of Thermal Protection System material in July of 1998

signaled major milestones for the flagship of NASA’s technology demonstrators. Before completion, the program will test and integrate new technologies including aerospike propulsion, lifting body aerodynam- ics, the world’s largest composite liquid hydrogen tanks, and aircraft- like ground operations which enable a 2-day turnaround instead of months. Testing of the subscale prototype will provide the data necessary for industry to build a full-scale RLV that is expected to dramatically increase reliability and meet the goal of lowering the cost of putting a pound of payload into low-Earth orbit from $10,000 to $1,000.

X-34/Fastrac Engine

The X—34, launched from beneath an L-1011 airplane, will reach an altitude of 250,000 feet at speeds approaching Mach 8 before it touches down on a runway. This small demonstrator will help reduce the risk associated with developing a full- scale operational RLV early in the next decade and enable technologies to reduce the cost of future space transportation systems. Several major

milestones accomplished in fiscal year 1998 included critical design review on the main propulsion system, arrival of the turbopump for the X—34 Fastrac engine at Marshall, and completion of qualification tests on the first wing assembly before delivery to Orbital Sciences Corporation. Key technolo- gies needed to develop a reusable launch vehicle will be demonstrated through ground development and flight test on the X—34. These include the low cost Fastrac engine, a graphite composite airframe, advanced thermal protection on leading edges, and automated flight operations using GPS. In January of 1998 NASA modified the X—34 contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation to produce a second flight vehicle for the program, which will bridge the gap between the earlier Clipper-Graham (DC-XA) and the larger and higher performance X-33.

Advanced Space Transportation Program

The Advanced Space Transportation Program is a focused technology program tailored to meet the future needs of the NASA Enterprises and the commercial space industry. The ASTP will pursue the development of revolutionary advancements in space access with the goal to realize a 10-fold reduction in the cost of space transportation in the next 10 years, and another 10-fold reduction within 25 years. The program will provide the propulsion and airframe system knowledge required to support flight demonstration projects while focusing on future breakthrough technologies beyond the next generation.

The ASTP includes five major thrusts: Small Payload Focused Technologies, Reusable Launch Vehicle Focused Technologies, Core Technologies, In- Space Technologies, and Space Transportation Research/Interstellar Transportation. A brief discussion of

each project follows.

750K injector test for the Marshall- developed Fastrac engine in the Center’s East Test Area.

E Small Payload Focused Tech- nologies—Small Payload Focused (Bantam) activities are developing advanced reusable technologies applicable to systems capable of launching small science and technology payloads. The highlight of FY98 was the delivery of the Fastrac engine to the Stennis Space Center for testing in support of the X—34. In addition, several low-cost component technologies were successfully demonstrated. A low-cost turbopump was designed, fabricated and as- sembled that has reduced the Fastrac engine turbopump cost by a factor of 3. Bench verification testing of a rocket engine controller based on a Chrysler automotive computer was completed. A modular propulsion avionics suite was delivered and is ready for bench testing. A PC- based launch control and mission planning system was demon- strated in bench tests. Engine injector testing was initiated and compatibility tests are being conducted for hydrogen peroxide composite tanks.

E Reusable Launch Vehicle Focused Technologies—RLV Focused activities are developing airframe systems and propulsion technologies to reduce the cost of access to space to $1,000/Ib in 10 years. Tasks are complemen-

tary to, but do not duplicate, the work funded by X—33. In FY98, technology development has been initiated for durable thermal protection systems, lightweight conformal structures, increased component life capability, low- cost manufacturing, lightweight airframe and propulsion compo- nents and advanced power systems.

E Core Technologies—The emphasis of the Core Technolo- gies area is development and demonstration of reusable airframe and propulsion tech- nologies that will reduce the cost of access to space to $100/lb in 25 years. Crucial technology advancement is required to increase performance margins which in turn lead to longer life and reduced maintenance costs in future reusable space transporta- tion systems. The focus of core activities in FY98 was advanced propulsion, specifically, the development of rocket-based combined cycle (RBCC) tech- nologies. In 1998, 2 integrated RBCC flowpaths, one by Aerojet and one by Boeing-Rocketdyne, were built and tested. The testing was conducted from sea-level static (Mach 0) to Mach 8. The test program included both direct-connect and free-jet tests. Several “first-time” tests were conducted. The first was a dynamic test that varied both the

RBCC test engine.

MSFC FY 1998 Annual Report

The use of fusion for propulsion has the potential to open the entire solar system for exploration.

air enthalpy and the Mach number as the flowpath transitioned from the air- augmented rocket (AAR) to ramjet operating mode. The second was the performance of a Mach 8 scramjet at high dynamic pressures of 1,000 Ibs/ft?. Combustion wave ignition was utilized to ignite the multiple rockets integrated within the flowpath. Integrated flowpath testing is being conducted at General Applied Sciences Laboratory (GASL) located in Ronkonkoma, NY. Results to date indicate that the flowpaths are performing as anticipated. Future testing will continue on both flowpaths to improve performance and operability issues.

In-Space Technologies—The In-Space Technologies project is studying technologies intended to increase performance over today’s chemical space transfer systems. Technologies being pursued include tethers for transportation systems, solar thermal propulsion and solar electric propulsion systems. Deep Space 1, launched in November 1998 and powered by NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readi- ness (NSTAR), marked the first time that nonchemical propulsion was used as the primary means of propelling a spacecraft. This project has helped demonstrate the solar electric engine’s suitability for long term missions.

Space Transportation Research—The Space Transpor- tation Research project provides the basic research function of the ASTP program. The activity focuses on advanced concepts for enabling breakthroughs in space transportation and maturing these revolutionary ideas via small, critical technology experiments

and breadboard validations. Research areas include advanced concepts for launch augmenta- tion, pulse detonation engines, high-energy propellants, and high-energy concepts and materials which hold promise for enabling exciting new missions that are beyond the realm of present technological capability. In FY98 the antimatter-triggered fusion research continued to show progress towards the eventual objective of trapping, cooling and transporting antipro- tons from Fermi Labs to the Air Force Shiva-Star Facility for micro fusion experiments. Two pulse detonation engine test articles have been constructed and have begun initial tests to demonstrate the engineering feasibility of rocket engines based on this promising technol- ogy. Short track tests of a magnetic levitation breadboard were conducted to investigate its potential application for launch assist. Free-flight tests of a laser- powered launch vehicle were conducted using a ground-based laser on a small test article.

Other Accomplishments— Marshall’s Space Transportation Programs Office supported other efforts focused on enabling a next generation reusable launch vehicle. The Space Transporta- tion Architecture Study was initiated in September with five industry teams and an internal NASA team. The Marshall team also accepted the transfer of the X-38 Deorbit Propulsion Stage Project from Johnson Space Center. At Marshall, FY98 saw substantial progress in develop- ment of the technology required for future reusable launch vehicles and space transportation systems to support NASA’s long term goals.

Advanced Concepts and Studies

Marshall is pursuing a number of initiatives committed to long- range technological advancement. In FY98, a number of concepts and studies were undertaken in addition to providing support to the Advanced Space Transportation and Technology initiative. Highlights of some of the more intriguing

concepts are detailed below.

Development of Space

In 1998, the MSFC Program Development Directorate began new initiatives focused on “...enabling the development of space for human enterprise” as stated in the NASA Agency Mission. Precursor work was initiated in 1997, with NASA/MSFC studies on the feasibility of space business parks and public space travel. In 1998 these studies continued, and included a “new space industries” workshop and funding for determining the feasibility of space solar power for terrestrial use. In the spring, a Development of Space Planning Team was appointed by the Center Director to further define the concept and explore Marshall’s role in space development. The team concluded that the Center’s expertise in both transportation and microgravity could significantly contribute to the implementation of the Development of Space initiative. This effort is continuing to grow and will provide insight into the transportation and microgravity technology development activities required for future commercial enterprises in space.

Virtual Research Center

In 1998, the Virtual Research Center (VRC) supported over 1,500 users on more than 90 project teams. The VRC provides a suite of web accessible tools that facilitate work among geographically distributed team members. These tools include a document management system, a

topic discussion forum, a calendar, an action item tracker, an electronic mail list, and a team directory. Project information is password protected and a firewall was added in 1998 to provide additional security. Plans for 1999 include incorporating encryption, an object-oriented architecture, and a hierarchical data management structure. Members of the VRC team are actively supporting the Intelligent Synthesis Environment (ISE) initiative.

Space Solar Power

In 1998, the Marshall Center led an inter-Center and external team in the Space Solar Power (SSP) Concept Definition Study, which identified commercially viable SSP concepts along with technical and programmatic risks. Products from this study included innovative concepts for generating electricity in geosynchronous-Earth orbit and transmitting power to the ground via microwaves to support science, exploration and commercial applications. Associated with these concepts were technology roadmaps focused on commercially viable concepts that could be implemented in the 2020 to 2030 time frame. In 1999, MSFC will lead the NASA SSP Exploratory Research and Technology effort to conduct preliminary strategic technology research and development to enable large, multi-megawatt SSP systems and wireless power transmission for government missions and commercial markets (in-space and terrestrial).

NASA's Advanced Space Transportation Program at MSFC is developing cutting edge technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of space transportation.

Space Solar Power: A power generation system in space for transfer to Earth or to other space platforms.

MSFC FY 1998 Annual Report

The Space Shuttle being mated with the ET and the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB’s).

Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle, America’s first reusable launch vehicle, still remains the workhorse of the space program. With the launch of the first International Space Station components, and in supporting the remaining assembly schedule, the Shuttle will continue in this role into the next millennium. Space Shuttle propulsion was originally developed by Marshall and continues to improve through an infusion of new technology in all the propulsion elements.

Space Shuttle

In fiscal year 1998, Marshall’s Space Shuttle Projects Office supported four safe and successful Space Shuttle launches including the conclusion of the U.S. and Russian Mir Space Station missions. Paramount in the operation of the Shuttle is safety. Today we continue to fly safely with over 60 successful launches since return to flight. Another major thrust in the operation of the Shuttle is lowering the costs associated with flight. Daily operations are transitioning to United Space Alliance (USA), a commercial company responsible for lowering costs associated with flying the Shuttle in order to free up resources for other NASA projects including a series of new reusable launch vehicles. In 1998 the Solid Rocket Booster Project successfully consolidated the prime contract with United Space Boosters, Incorporated, into USA’s Space Flight Operations Contract. This is the first of four Marshall-managed Shuttle contracts planned for USA consolidation. Marshall’s Shuttle workforce continues to downsize experiencing a cumulative 50 percent reduction in civil servants along with a 40 percent reduction in contractor personnel since 1992. This has resulted in a 40 percent cost savings for the Marshall related elements. In this environment, Shuttle projects office personnel were still able to pursue key enhancements which

increased reliability and reduced costs. A few of these enhancements are detailed below.

External Tank

The External Tank (ET) Project reached an important milestone when the first Super Lightweight Tank (SLWT) achieved flight with the launch of STS—91. This was a significant step in successful

The super lightweight external fuel tank.

deployment of the International Space Station because the new tank is the same size as the old one but over 7,000 pounds lighter. For each pound removed from the external tank, a pound of payload can be added. In the external tank this performance gain is critical to [SS payload requirements. The tank, which weighs 1.7 million pounds at liftoff, is taller than a 15- story building and has a diameter of 27 feet, making it the largest single component of the Shuttle. It holds the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants in two separate tanks for the Shuttle’s three main engines. The SLWT is manufactured by Lockheed Martin at NASA’s Michoud Assembly

Facility. Space Shuttle Main Engine

The redesigned Space Shuttle main engine (SSME), referred to as the Block HA configuration, achieved first flight with the new large throat main combustion chamber on STS-89. The new design reduces peak pressure and temperature, and has more than doubled the reliability of the engine. The SSME, originally developed by Marshall in the 1970’s, still remains the world’s most sophisticated reusable rocket engine. In a little over 8 minutes the three main engines provide liftoff thrust, throttling, control, and insertion. The fuel turbopump, which weighs about the same as one automobile engine, produces as much horsepower as

28 diesel locomotives. Each engine is 14 feet long, weighs about

7,000 pounds, and is 7.5 feet in diameter at the end of its nozzle.

Solid Rocket Motor

The solid rocket motors, which only burn for 2 minutes, produce about

80 percent of the thrust for each Shuttle launch. These motors represent the largest operational solid rocket motors in the world and generate 5.3 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. In fiscal year 1998, the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project conducted a successful full-scale static test firing which incorporated 67 test objectives. These tests are essential to provide verification of critical design and manufacturing processes in light of the inherent inability to accept test flight motors.

SSME during a test fire.

MSFC FY 1998 Annual Report


The International Space Station depicted with the Space Shuttle docked.

International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is a cooperative effort involving much of the world community. Once operational, it will allow a continuous human presence in space for many years to come. Marshall plays a major role in the development and operation of the /SS, from manufacturing and testing hardware to /SS research and science operations.

Sixteen nations are involved in the development of the ZSS. They include the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The ZSS will weigh about 950,000 pounds when completed and support a crew of up to seven. It will include five pressurized laboratories and attached external sites for research. Construction of the JSS is scheduled for completion in the year 2003.

MSFC’s JSS responsibilities include: development of the regenerative life support systems for crew and research animals; management oversight of two node elements, the Multipurpose Logistics Module and the Interim Control Module; development of research facilities including the EXPRESS Rack; integration of Spacelab pallets and support equipment for JSS assembly; environmental qualification testing of major JSS elements and systems; and management of the payload operations and utilization activities for research activities onboard the ISS. Marshall performs all preflight dynamic and structural testing of U.S. ISS elements in addition to providing qualification testing of some JSS components.

The first component of the JSS, known as Node! or “Unity,” was manufactured by the Boeing Company at MSFC. The node is made of aluminum and has six hatches which serve as docking ports for other ISS modules. Along with Unity, the U.S. Laboratory and the airlock module were also built by Boeing in facilities provided by Marshall. Unity was shipped to the Kennedy Space Center and accepted in September for flight on STS-88.

Nodes 2 and 3 are being developed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), with Marshall providing project management and technical oversight. In fiscal year 1998 Node 2 completed

Preliminary Design Review and Node 3 completed requirements review. In this past year Marshall also developed a water recycling and oxygen generation system and established contracts for development of these technologies. This will eliminate the need to resupply thousands of pounds of water and oxygen to the JSS crew each year.

Marshall also provides the facilities for structural and environmental testing of the Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM), the mechanism that physically joins two ZSS elements together and creates an airtight interface between them. Unity CBM Latch and Meteoroid Debris Mecha- nisms Acceptance and Qualification Tests were successfully completed in the past year along with the Truss Structural Strength/Static Test and the Airlock Modal Test.

Marshall responsibilities in the ZSS payloads arena encompass both specific development tasks and broader integration tasks. The development tasks include the design, development, and testing of the Microgravity Science Glovebox, which will allow astronauts to safely conduct experiments in an enclosed laboratory with the use of gloves. Combustion, fluid physics, biotech- nology, and materials science experiments can be undertaken in an environment that would otherwise be considered hazardous without the use of the Glovebox.

The MSFC broader integration task is that of payload operations. NASA has the role of leading the International Partners in the integration of Space Station operations, and the MSFC operations team in the Payload Operations Integration Center (POIC) at the Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) has been delegated cognizance over payload operations. At the international level, the team performs the planning and real-time control functions of the POIC. For

U.S. payloads, there is a more detailed role of integration to conduct specific operation of NASA’s onboard science assets. To implement these capabilities, the mission operations development team is providing new ground system capabilities within the historic HOSC facility and the POIC, which provide innovative data systems solutions that take advantage of new technologies for data process- ing and connectivity.

An important feature is the teleoperations concept which distrib- utes monitoring and the control of science payloads to the experimenter in a remote center. To that end, the development team has produced the Telescience resource Kit (TreK) solution which bundles command and telemetry functions with voice and video connectivity into a PC-based platform. This innovation will begin a new era of commercial avenues for low-cost telescience operations for NASA’s JSS science customers.

Looking to the future, the ZSS will provide the fundamental building blocks for space commerce such as space solar power and commercial space parks.

Unity is loaded into the back of a C-5 Galaxy aircraft for shipment to Kennedy Space Center to undergo prelaunch tests.

Node 2 Aft Cylinder at the /SS production facility in MSFC building 4708.


MSFC FY 1998 Annual Report

Onboard STS-—73, USML-2: Mission Specialist, Payload Commander, Kathryn Thornton with Crystal Growth Furnace (CGF).


Microgravity Research Program

As the Lead Center for NASA's Microgravity Research Program, MSFC manages microgravity research projects at Marshall and other NASA Centers. In accordance with NASA's Strategic Plan, the Microgravity Research Program seeks to use the microgravity environment of space as a laboratory to advance knowledge, to explore the nature of physical phenomena contributing to progress in science and technology on Earth, and to study the role of gravity in technological processes, building a scientific foundation for understanding the consequences of gravitational environments beyond Earth’s boundaries.

The Significance of Microgravity

Gravity is such an accepted part of our lives that we rarely think about it, even though it affects everything we do. Any time we drop or throw something and watch it fall to the ground, we see gravity in action. Although gravity is a universal force, there are times when it is not desirable to conduct scientific research under its full influence. In these cases, scientists perform their

experiments in microgravity, a condition in which the effects of gravity are greatly reduced. This is sometimes described as “weightlessness.”

A microgravity environment provides a unique laboratory in which scientists can investigate the three fundamental states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Microgravity conditions allow scientists to observe and explore phenomena and processes that are normally masked by the effects of Earth’s gravity.

The challenge facing NASA’s microgravity research program is to use space flight time wisely and to conduct the most scientifically promising research possible. The Microgravity Research Program (MRP) is responsible for managing a comprehensive research program which is currently made up of five major science research areas. These include biotechnology, combustion science, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science. The MRP supports and coordinates researchers with a wide range of backgrounds, forming an interdisciplinary microgravity science community that conducts research and disseminates the results of the program. The MRP also assists the science community’s research through the development of suitable

experiment instruments for selected projects and the selection of the most suitable vehicle for each experiment.

Microgravity Research Areas

Marshall is assigned authority and responsibility to manage and execute the science diciplines of biotechnol- ogy and materials science. Glenn Research Center is assigned lead in areas of combustion science and fluid physics, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for funda- mental physics.

E Biotechnology—The NASA MRP’s Biotechnology discipline focuses on the development of new technologies to enhance current biological research and to open up new avenues of related research. As one of the most dynamic segments of our high technology economy, biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in medical research and the development of pharmaceutical drugs, agricultural research and products, and environmental protection. NASA’s microgravity biotechnology program contributes to three major areas of research which include fundamental biotechnology science, protein crystal growth, and cell and tissue culturing.

E Combustion Science— Combustion has been a subject of vigorous scientific research for

Biomedical research offers hope for a variety of medical problems.

over a century. Studies of combustion are motivated by important public health and economic problems. Combustion processes directly cost in excess of $200 billion each year in the United States. Air pollution, produced in large part by combustion-generated particulates, contributes to approximately 60,000 U.S. deaths each year. Unwanted fires cause approximately

5,000 deaths, 26,000 injuries and costs $26 billion in property losses yearly. The effects of global warming and changes in the ozone layer pose public health and economic problems that are potentially enormous. We now know that space offers unprecedented opportunities for critical measurements needed to understand and resolve practical combustion problems.

Fluid Physics—Fluid physics is the study of the motion of fluids and the effects of such motion. Since three of the four states of matter (gas, liquid and plasma) are fluid and even the fourth (solid) behaves like a fluid under many conditions, fluid physics is vital to understanding, controlling, and improving all of our industrial as well as natural processes. The engines used to propel a car or an airplane, the shape of the wings of an airplane that allow it to fly, the operation of boilers