50 Years Since Moon Landing: How rocket testing at Stennis helped fuel Apollo 11

50 Years Since Moon Landing: How rocket testing at Stennis helped fuel Apollo 11
NASA's Stennis Space Center in Hancock County played a big role in putting the first men on the moon.

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, all this week WLOX will show you how Stennis Space Center played a key role in getting Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins into space.

At Stennis, there were a lot of folks working with pride, and maybe even some trepidation, as they watched the Saturn V rocket, with engines they tested numerous times, take three men to the moon and into history.

“In the early days of Apollo, Dr. Von Braun came and spoke at a fair in Picayune,” said Randy Galloway, Stennis Space Center executive director. "At that time, they still weren’t sure what method they were going to use to get to the moon but he said, ‘I don’t know how were going to do it but to get to space, we’re going to have to go through Hancock County.’”

Through Stennis and its rocket test stands.

"The Apollo 11 stages had already been tested the previous year so they were already at the Cape, but we still had hardware here,” Galloway added. “All the second stages were tested here at Stennis. They were built in California and taken by ship around the Panama Canal, brought up to Michoud Assembly Facility. They switched it to a barge and they brought it out here and put it in either the A1 or A2 test stand.”

At the B2 stand, they’re getting ready to test the SLS rocket engines as part of NASA’S plan to go back into space. Pretty soon, a replica middle stage of the SLS will be mounted with four RS-25 engines for testing. Those working now say their job isn’t that much different that those who worked on Apollo missions 50 years ago.

“We believe that all the work we’ve put in, all the blood sweat and tears io actually culminating with the work we’re doing right now,” said Barry Robinson, B2 core project supervisor. All the work the guys and gals that have put in to refurbish this facility for the current age, reflects what we’ve learned from the past.”

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