NASA has awarded Precision Mechanical the contract for the manufacture, fabrication and installation of upgrades to the liquid hydrogen (LH2) system at Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This firm fixed-price contract has a potential total value of $60.3m. The LH2 system upgrade includes integration of a new minimum 1.25-million-gallon LH2 storage sphere, associated vaporisers, flare stack and propane system, fill manifold, piping, valves, and controls.

Launch Complex 39B is undergoing a metamorphosis from top to bottom to support the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for their first integrated uncrewed flight test.

NASA:Bill White

Source: NASA/Bill White

About Launch Complex 39

Since the late 1960s, Pads A and B at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39 have served as backdrops for America’s most significant manned space flight endeavours – Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and space shuttle.

Located on Merritt Island, just north of Cape Canaveral, the pads were originally built for the huge Apollo/Saturn V rockets that launched American astronauts on their historic journeys to the moon and back. Following the joint US-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission of July 1975, the pads were modified to support space shuttle operations. Both pads were designed to support the concept of mobile launch operations, in which space vehicles are checked out and assembled in the protected environment of the Orbiter Processing Facility and the Vehicle Assembly Building, then transported by large, tracked crawlers to the launch pad for final processing and launch.

During the Apollo era, key pad service structures were mobile. For the space shuttle, two permanent service towers were installed at each pad for the first time, the fixed service structure and the rotating service structure.

On 12th April 1981 shuttle operations commenced at Pad A with the launch of Columbia on STS-1. After 23 more successful launches from A, the first space shuttle to lift off from Pad B was the ill-fated Challenger in January 1986. Pad B was designated for the resumption of shuttle flights in September 1988, followed by the reactivation of Pad A in January 1990.