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Erie County and Sandusky are home to a major NASA testing center, Glenn Research Center’s 6,400 acre Plum Brook Station. This facility’s deep space simulator and rocket engine test capabilities were developed as part of NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space missions. Today Plum Brook is home to the Space Power Facility (SPF) which houses the world's largest deep space simulation chamber. The Plum Brook chamber has been used to test a variety of space exploration systems including portions of the International Space Station and the landing system used for putting the Mars Rovers safely on that planet’s surface. The vacuum chamber is chilled to reproduce the cold and airlessness of space providing a realistic test of how spacecraft will perform during missions.
The world's largest space simulation chamber. Measuring 100 ft. in diameter and 122ft. high.
The Plum Blum Brook simulator is the world's only test facility that can handle large rocket engines firing in a simulated high-altitude testing environment. NASA is pouring $152 million into this cavernous test facility at the site south of Sandusky in preparation for a return to the moon.
Orion launches from Kennedy Space Center atop an Ares I crew launch vehicle.
The U.S. will send a new generation of explorers to the moon aboard NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. Orion is scheduled to take astronauts out to the space station by 2015. One of the next stops after that is landing back on the moon. NASA will be developing a new lunar lander and propulsion testing on the new lunar lander will be carried out in the Plum Blum Brook simulator.
Hundreds of rocket engines have been fired and tested at Plum Brook. In the near future, it will be the only place in the world where all environmental space system testing can be done under one roof -- a huge step in space exploration beginning right here in Erie County.
Plum Brook is progressively renovating its Space Propulsion Test Facility to be able to handle testing of the Earth Departure Stage, NASA's name for the planned Ares 5 rocket's cryogenic upper stage that will be used to take Orion and the Altair lunar lander from low Earth orbit to the Moon.
In addition, two new test stands are under construction, to mimic the forces of rocket launch and ascent. The mechanical-vibration site will shake spacecraft components. The acoustic test chamber next door will blast the space vehicles with nitrogen-powered horns, to simulate sonic shock waves.
NASA is creating a unique test site where crews will run space simulations that shake and blast large space components with heat, cold and sound. NASA has indicated that modifications are also planned for B-2, Plum Brook's facility for testing the upper stages of liquid fuel rockets.
The power facility gives the region a competitive advantage to land not only NASA business, but also big-ticket contracts to test satellites and spacecraft for companies and foreign countries.
Erie County Economic Development Corporation
247 Columbus Ave., Suite 126
Sandusky, OH 44870
Phone: (419) 627-7791
Fax: (419) 627-7595
Business Expansion and Retention Specialist