After undergoing a $55 million renovation, the Apollo-era Operation & Checkout (O & C) Building, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) industrial area, has been transformed into a state-of the-art green assembly multi-purpose-use facility. The renovations are part of a larger effort to not just prepare the space center for crewed deep-space missions, but to modernize many of the historic structures at KSC.
“A lot of the things we did to this building were designed to make it more flexible,” said Jim Kemp, director for Lockheed Martin’s Orion Assembly Testing and Launch Operations.
Each and every work station in the O & C rides on wheels or on air bearings so they can be moved at will. The power and testing connections are located under the floor in a race way that is easily assessable.
The O & C building’s design is replete with fixed structures that cannot be removed; this has proved to be a challenge to the refurbishment effort. The only remaining monument in the building is the explosion-proof pressure test room. With steel doors and four foot thick concrete walls – this room will be incorporated into Lockheed-Martin’s test plans.
“We need to have the supply chain close to the assembly plant, one of the reasons for this is that damage to critical components frequently occurs during transportation,” Kemp said.
Lockheed-Martin has leased a portion of the building to United Space Alliance (USA) as a sub-contractor to fabricate Orion’s wiring harnesses on site to help avoid this problem.
On the main floor of this 70,000 square building sits the reason for all of this attention, the Orion ground test article capsule. Orion is positioned between two portable HEPA walls on its test stand and is the obvious center of much attention as it is being used to prepare the structure for the flight article of the spacecraft.
The unit currently residing in the O & C building is used to test ground equipment as well as to the test fit and function of different systems and facilities.
The ground test article won’t remain in the O & C building for long however. It will soon be replaced by the flight test article – the version of the spacecraft that will be used on the Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission which is currently scheduled to take place in 2014.