The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), located in Huntsville, AL, became a NASA field center on July 1, 1960. Since then, Marshall has provided the agency with the mission-critical design, development, and integration of launch and space systems required for space operations, exploration, and scientific missions. Marshall’s unique interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving brings scientific and engineering expertise together, providing answers that improve life on Earth, inspire a new generation, and stimulate innovation for the future of space exploration.
Marshall’s legacy in rocket science includes providing the rockets that powered Americans to the Moon, developing the space shuttle propulsion system, and managing the development of Skylab, Spacelab, space station nodes, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Obser vatory, and many scientific instruments. Today, the Marshall team is leading development of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the next advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Facilities and Capabilities
Propulsion Systems: Developing and maturing propulsion technologies for space transportation and science missions, MSFC contributes engineering expertise for all transportation phases and operates the Propulsion Research Development Laboratory, a national resource for researchers from NASA, other government agencies, and universities.
Materials and Processes: Managing the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing — NASA’s principal resource for aerospace manufacturing research, development, and innovation — MSFC defines and develops state-of-the-art materials, streamlined processes, and lightweight, highstrength products to be used in the harsh space environment.
Mission Operations: Ground systems work includes telemetry, voice, video, information management, data reduction, and payload planning to link scientists around the world with their experiments. Marshall is home to NASA’s Payload Operations Center, the primary science command for the International Space Station (ISS), as well as the Mission Operations Lab - oratory and the Huntsville Op erations Support Center.
Space Systems: MSFC has a rich history of designing, developing, integrating, testing, and fielding the range of human and robotic systems. The center defines and develops science experiments and life support systems; performs mechanical design and analysis, electrical design, and integration for hardware and data systems; and performs testing and flight certification for ISS science racks.
Spacecraft and Vehicle Systems: MSFC provides system design and analysis, including structural, avionics, and flight mechanics; performs end-to-end systems engineering to fully integrate spacecraft and vehicles with ground processing and launching facilities; provides vehicle technical design and verification; and provides sustaining engineering support.
Test Facilities: The Marshall campus includes more than 40 facilities for all types of rocket and space transportation technology testing, from small components to full-up engine hot-fire testing. The center provides an unsurpassed capability for testing large rocket structures and offers one of the few test stands in the world that can handle large liquid-fueled rocket engines.
Space Optics Manufacturing: MSFC performs research on optics for future space telescopes, and develops ultralightweight optics materials and fabrication technologies.
Environmental Control and Life Support System Facility: The ECLSS Facility provides a test bed for delivering clean air, a comfortable living environment, and drinkable water on the space station.
Flight Robotics Facility: The Flight Robotics Facility houses the world’s flattest floor, is completely black and affords the ability to simulate floating in space, and houses a large overhead robotic arm used to test automated rendezvous and docking sensors.
SERVIR Test Bed: The SERVIR Test Bed uses satellite imagery to monitor and forecast ecological changes and severe events such as forest fires and red tides. It can also be used to locate archeological ruins and to monitor areas at risk for flooding or natural disasters such as landslides.
X-ray and Cryogenic Facility: With the world’s largest and most advanced laboratory for simulating X-ray emissions from distant celestial objects, the X-ray and Cryogenic Facility has been instrumental in developing the optics for the Chandra X-ray Observatory and also supports the James Webb Space Telescope with the environments required for cryogenicoptical verification.
National Space Science & Technology Center: At the NSSTC, an exceptional research facility on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, many of Marshall’s scientists and engineers collaborate with co-located university, private sector, and government researchers to perform cutting-edge research and development in Earth and space sciences.
Michoud Assembly Facility: A NASA-owned facility managed by MSFC, Michoud in New Orleans is a world-class manufacturing facility with capabilities that include the ability to manufacture and assemble critical hardware components under development at Marshall and other NASA centers.