The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Flight Center ("JSFC") is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's center for human spaceflight activities. The center consists of a complex of 100 buildings constructed on located in southeast Houston, Texas. Johnson Space Center is home to the United States astronaut corps and is responsible for training astronauts from both the U.S. and its international partners. The center, originally known as the "Manned Spacecraft Center" was constructed on land donated by Rice University and was opened in 1963. In 1973, the center was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Johnson Space Center is home to Mission Control Center (MCC-H), the NASA control center that coordinates and monitors all human spaceflight for the United States. MCC-H directs all Space Shuttle missions and activities aboard the International Space Station. The center is also responsible for direction of operations at White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, which serves as a backup Shuttle landing site and as the coordinating facility for the upcoming Project Constellation program, which will replace the Space Shuttle program after 2010.
Johnson Space Center has its origins in legislation shepherded to enactment in 1958 by then-U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who was from Texas. After President John F. Kennedy made the goal in 1961 to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, the Space Task Group was formed with Langley Research Center engineers to lead the Apollo Project. The group would need test facilities and research laboratories suitable to mount an expedition to the moon. In July 1961, NASA Administrator James E. Webb headed the site selection team. Requirements for the new site included the availability of water transport and an all-weather airport, proximity to a major telecommunications network, availability of established industrial workers and contractor support, an available supply of water, a mild climate permitting year-round outdoor work and a culturally attractive community. Houston was initially included because of the proximity to the 4,700 acre United States Army San Jacinto Ordnance Depot located on the Houston Ship Channel, and to regional universities, including Rice University, University of Texas, and Texas A&M University. The selection of Houston for the site was announced in September 1961. Construction of the center designed by Charles Luckmanbegan in April 1962, and the facility was officially opened for business in September 1963. When opened, the facility was originally designated the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) and was to be the primary center for U.S. space missions involving astronauts. The center was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973, the year Johnson died.
The Mission Control Center has been the operational center of every American human space mission since Gemini IV. The control center manages all activity on board the spacecraft and directs all space shuttle missions. Mission Control Center was constructed in 1962. By 1965, JSC was fully operational and has been responsible for coordinating and monitoring every crewed NASA mission since the Gemini Project.
In addition to housing NASA's astronaut operations, JSC is also the site of the former Lunar Receiving Laboratory, where the first astronauts returning from the moon were quarantined, and where the majority of lunar samples are stored.
In the wake of the January 28th, 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the then-President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy traveled to the Johnson Space Center on January 31st, 1986, to speak at a memorial service honoring the astronauts. It was attended by 6,000 NASA employees and 4,000 guests, as well as by the families of the crew. During the carefully planned ceremony, an Air Force band led the singing of "God Bless America" as NASA T-38 Talon supersonic jets flew directly over the scene, in the traditional missing-man formation. All activities were broadcast live by the national television networks.
One of the artifacts displayed at Johnson Space Center is the Saturn V rocket. It is whole, except for the ring between the S-IC and S-II stages, and the fairing between the S-II and S-IVB stages, and made of actual surplus flight-ready articles. It also has a real (though incomplete) Apollo CSM, intended to fly in the canceled Apollo 19 mission.
In September 2001, NASA's Johnson Space Center celebrated its 40th year of leading America into space.
On April 20, 2007 a hostage situation developed in Building 44, the Communication and Tracking Development Laboratory where a gunman killed one person, injured another, and took a hostage for over three hours until finally committing suicide. On September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike hit Galveston as a Category 2 Hurricane and caused damage to the Johnson Space Center, destroying a few hangars for the T-38 Talons and other buildings were damaged as well.
The astronauts begin their formal training program during their year of candidate training by reading manuals and by taking computer-based training lessons on the various Orbiter systems. The training process includes practice with the single systems trainer where the astronauts are trained to operate each Orbiter system and to recognize malfunctions and perform corrective actions.
Following SST training, the astronauts begin training in the Shuttle Mission Simulators (SMSs). The SMS provides training of shuttle vehicle operations and systems tasks associated with the major flight phases. Astronauts begin their training in the SMS using training software until they are assigned to a particular mission. Astronauts also train with the flight controllers in the Mission Control Center. The SMS and MCC are linked by computer in the same way the Orbiter and MCC are linked during an actual mission.
The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory provides a controlled neutral buoyancy environment a very large pool containing about 6.2 million US gallons (23,000 m³) of water where astronauts train to practice extra-vehicular activity tasks while attempting to simulate zero-g conditions. The facility provides pre-flight training in becoming familiar with crew activities and with the dynamics of body motion under weightless conditions.
The Prebreathe Reduction Program is a research study program at the JSC that is currently being developed to improve the safety and efficiency of space walks from the ISS.
|1||Headquarters of JSC, including the offices of senior management and the JSC director.|
|2||Public Affairs Office, video production, and audio processing facilities. The JSC Visitors Center was a former tenant until 1993.|
|3||First cafeteria and employee store.|
|4||Offices for human spaceflight activities, including astronauts, flight controllers, and flight directors.|
|5||Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS), both fixed-base and motion-based.|
|7||Vacuum Chamber and Space Suit testing facilities.|
|8||Health Clinic and historical photo and video archives.|
|9||Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), including full-scale International Space Station module mockups and several Space Shuttle cabin and payload bay mockups.|
|10||Large scale fabrication facility, the high bay, and machine shops.|
|11||Second cafeteria and employee store.|
|12||JSC's Office of Education, which specializes in promoting space science, technology, engineering and mathematics across the country.|
|15||Human and Environmental Factors offices|
|16 and 16A||Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, where software and hardware changes are tested to insure they function well with the whole vehicle in a simulated flight environment.|
|30||Mission Control Center (MCC) including the Flight Control Rooms (FCRs) to support the Space Shuttle and ISS.|
|32||Space Environment Simulation Laboratory Two vacuum chambers for testing flight hardware, designated as a National Historic Landmark.|
|37||Life Sciences Laboratory. Formerly the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.|
|44||Communications and Tracking Center.|
|45||Offices for human spaceflight activities, including astronauts, flight controllers, and flight directors.|
|110||Security headquarters just outside the NASA gates by the employee entrance. Security issues badges for employees, contractors, and visitors.|