B-1/B-2 Test Stand

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B-1/B-2 Test Stand
B-1/B-2 Test Stand

Center: Stennis Space Center
Location: Hancock County, MS
Year Built: 1966
Historic Eligibility: National Historic Landmark
Important Tests: Saturn V first stage (S-IC), Space Shuttle Main Engine

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[top] History

By far the largest of the original three test stands at Stennis Space Center, the B-1/B-2 stand is a huge dual-position stand built to test and flight-certify the first stage of the Saturn V (called the S-IC), the booster system for the Apollo program. The S-IC was the most powerful rocket ever built in the United States. The steel and concrete B-1/B-2 stand is 264 feet tall, and was one of the tallest structures in Mississippi at the time it was built. The stand is nominally rated for testing rockets with up to 7,500,000 pounds of thrust. Construction began in 1963, and the first static firing on the stand occurred on March 3, 1967 on an S-IC prototype (called the S-IC-T). Testing on the predicted sound levels had been extensive, but this first test reportedly shattered a plate glass window in a bank building in nearby Picayune, MS. The B-1/B-2 stand tested and flight-certified S-IC engines for the duration of the Apollo program.

The B Test Complex also includes a Test Control Center, various technical facilities and support equipment, and a machine shop.

Although testing and flight certification of engines for the Space Shuttle program were originally conducted on the smaller A-1 and A-2 stands, the program became so busy that a third test position was deemed valuable. In 1988, the B-1 position of the B-1/B-2 test stand was converted to accept and test the space shuttle main engine (SSME), and on August 20, 1990 tests were conducted on all three test stands in a single day for the first time. The B-1 test position saw the longest-duration tests ever run on the SSME.

No engine tested at SSC has ever been the cause of a mission failure, and as new programs are developed by NASA we can predict that the B-1/B-2 stand will continue to play a role in testing the next generation of rocket engines.

In 1984, all three of the original test stands were designated National Historic Landmarks.

[top] Photos

[top] Documents

1984 Butowsky - Man in Space National Historic Landmark Theme Study

1997 Herring - Way Station to Space: A History of the John C. Stennis Space Center

2007 NASA - Propulsion Testing

[top] Videos

RS-68 engine test on the B-1 stand

Common Booster Core test on the B-2 stand

MC-1 engine test on the B-2 stand

[top] Links

Stennis Space Center Engineering and Test Directorate home page

Stennis Image Retrieval System

John C. Stennis Space Center home page

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