Helping to breathe new life into the facilities that once supported the decades long Space Shuttle Program, we're repurposing some of the most iconic and well known buildings across NASA's facility portfolio.
As the Shuttle program came to a close in 2011, and after a series of new plans formulated to focus on the commercial realm of space access, the very next year, our aerospace team got to work transforming the former Orbiter Processing Facility 3 (OPF-3) at Kennedy Space Center into what is now known as the new Commercial Crew & Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF).
The OPF-3 was formerly a central part of helping to get the Shuttle off the ground. It's also where the Shuttle main engines were processed before lift-off. Built in 1985, this thirty-year old facility was primed for a new mission.
The C3PF underwent an extensive, multi-phase retrofit to repurpose it into the first manufacturing plant ever built for human spacecraft in Florida. It is now home to Boeing's Starliner (CST-100) space capsule. The spacecraft, a modern vehicle adapted with upgrades found in some of Boeing's newer commercial aircraft, is expected to launch humans and cargo to the International Space Station by 2017.
When C3PF was first seriously contemplated, the Boeing Company’s vision was forward looking. By aligning their vision with NASA’s Commercial Crew Capability Program, their Starliner now has a home base for both manufacturing and returning Starliner to flight status after a mission.
The key unique aspect of C3PF… it’s a single one stop shop for Starliner’s manufacture, assembly, testing and loading of propellants and mission provisions. When the Starliner rolls out of the C3PF, it is taken directly to LC-41, its launch pad, stacked, integrated and launched on a ULA Atlas V rocket. Post mission, the Starliner is returned to the C3PF where it is inspected, refurbished, re-assembled, tested and readied for its next flight. No other one facility anywhere has this built-in multi-function capability.
Nestled between the C3PF’s High Bay and Low Bay is a modern ‘Google style’, Program Management and Engineering/Tech Center. This is where the team responsible for manufacture, test and ground operations are facilitated by the latest advancements that one would expect to find in a high tech office environment. Similarly, Flight Operations is located just across the street at the Processing Control Center (PCC) which houses the Boeing Mission Control Center.
C3PF is already making history in its own right. It’s the only facility in the southeastern United States to manufacture human spacecraft. And now, since the retirement of the Shuttle, Starliner gives us independence from relying on rockets built and launched outside of the United States. The Starliner and the Atlas V rocket serve as a highly robust and reliable space transportation system for a multi-year commercial effort to bring humans safely in and out of low Earth orbit.
While Starliner is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station, C3PF will remain the constant beacon that welcomes this next generation vehicle and its crew safely home.
Concentrate on the stars, Starliner, we’ve got you covered here on Earth.