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BEHIND THE SCENES | Planning | Training | Engineering | Processing | Research | Meet the People

Behind the ScenesProcessing

IMAGE: Space Food Systems Manager Vickie Kloeris with Expedition 6 crew.

Space Food Systems Manager Vickie Kloeris, left, asks Expedition 6 crewmembers Yuri Malenchenko and Ed Lu about their food preferences.

As soon as a shuttle lands, NASA begins preparations for its next trip into space. This process involves thousands of people working together to make sure every system on the space shuttle is working as it should be and that it is prepared to take another crew and cargo safely into space.

The processing team also makes sure all the cargo, usually called "payloads," is safely stowed aboard the shuttle and ready to support the mission.

From new equipment for the space station to the latest science experiment taking its turn in microgravity, the processing team assures that everything will work on the way to space, in orbit and all the way home.

A Taste of the Future
The Space Food Systems Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston does all it can to ensure the astronauts are happy when it comes to their meals.

Facilities and Projects

Solid Rocket Booster Retrieval
After every space shuttle launch, two specially outfitted NASA ships are dispatched to retrieve the Solid Rocket Boosters from the western Atlantic Ocean.

The People of Processing

IMAGE: Barry Robinson

Barry Robinson is the Mechanical Test Operations Branch chief, Operations Division, at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
More People of Processing

From Landing to Launch (189 Kb pdf)
The work of preparing a space shuttle for flight takes place at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., primarily at the Launch Complex 39 Area. The process actually begins at the end of each flight.

Payload Processing Facilities
Payloads to be transported to the International Space Station are shipped to the launch site for final processing prior to launch. The launch center used and services offered are dependent on the vehicle used for transportation.

Launch Complex 39, Pads A and B
Since the late 1960s, Pads A and B at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39 in Florida have served as backdrops for America's most significant human space flight endeavors -- Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the space shuttle.

Shuttle Landing Facility
When an orbiter lands at the Kennedy Space Center, it touches down on one of the world's longest runways. The concrete facility is located about two miles northwest of the Vehicle Assembly Building on a northwest/southeast alignment.

Orbiter Processing Facility
An orbiter is towed to the Orbiter Processing Facility within hours of its arrival, either after landing at Kennedy Space Center or returning aboard a ferry flight on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

Rocket Propulsion Testing Complex
Every Space Shuttle Main Engine undergoes acceptance testing at Stennis Space Center in Alabama. Once proven flight-worthy, the engine is transported to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for installation on an orbiter.

Video - Main Engine Test Firing
On Nov. 8, 2002, NASA streamed a 520-second test firing of an advanced Space Shuttle Main Engine live over the Internet.

Meet the People

George Aldrich and his team of professional sniffers apply their talents to keeping the space shuttle and International Space Station free of offensive odors and dangerous compounds.
He was a fan of the Apollo program. He watched the early launches on a black-and-white television in a Louisiana classroom. He dreamed often of space. Barry Robinson never doubted that one day he would work for NASA. He just never imagined it would be in Mississippi.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 07/01/2009
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