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S-IC Test Stand

Building 4670, the S-IC Test Stand, was built to perform static test firings of the Saturn V's S-IC (first stage). Although the long-term plan was to perform such firings on the test stands at the Mississippi Test Facility (today the Stennis Space Center), those stands would not be ready until April 1966, so a suitable test stand was built at MSFC.

The stand was designed in 1961, with the foundation excavation contract let that June. While the S-IC stage had 7.5 million pounds of thrust, the test stand was built to accommodate boosters of up to 12 million pounds of thrust. The test stand is either 401 or 405 feet tall (depending upon the source), including a 138½ foot tall upper loading crane. The test stand has four concrete legs, the walls of which are four feet thick, set in bedrock approximately 40 feet below the ground. The concrete legs are 48 feet square at ground level, 30 feet square at the top, and rise 144 feet, where they are topped by a 122-foot steel superstructure. The entire stand measures 190' by 165' at the base.

The test stand was ready for use by early spring 1965, with the static test article (the S-IC-T stage, displayed today at the Kennedy Space Center) being loaded on March 1, 1965. Preparations proceeded smoothly, and two single-engine tests were performed on April 9, with another single-engine test on April 10. On April 16, the first five-engine test was performed (6.5 seconds in duration), two months ahead of schedule.

A total of 18 tests were performed with the S-IC-T stage at MSFC. The first three flight stages were also static-fired in the stand, with S-IC-1 undergoing two tests and S-IC-2 and S-IC-3 each being fired once. S-IC-4 and subsequent were tested at the MTF.

In 1974, after the Saturn program, the test stand was reconfigured to support the Space Shuttle program (the nearby blower facility was constructed during this reconfiguration). The test facility was modified to accommodate liquid hydrogen, and External Tank structural verification tests were performed in 1977. The stand was modified again in 1986 for the "Technology Test Bed engine," a modified Space Shuttle Main Engine.

The test stand was modified again to support the 1998 test firing of a Russion RD-180 rocket engine, to be used in the Atlas family. In 2014, Space Launch System liquid oxygen feed line testing was performed in the stand.

Like many buildings on the Marshall grounds, the stand has had numerous names over the years:

  • Building 4670
  • Saturn Static Test Stand
  • Saturn V Booster Test Stand
  • Saturn V S-IC Static Test Stand
  • S-IC Static Test Complex
  • Advanced Engine Test Facility

Additional resources:

Google Maps link.

As of now, I have not yet sorted through all of my pictures of the S-IC Test Stand, but some other page references this location. Thus, this is a "place holder" version right now, with only the pictures actually referenced. Come back some time later to see if I've finished up, or drop me an email to request me to prioritize the rest of these pictures.

 
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