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Oct 05, 2014, 11:33 PM
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1st rule of government spending




Never build 1 when you can build 2 for twice the price. Everyone knows about Stennis space center, the A-1 test stand where the SSME & F-1 were tested. Lesser known is the even bigger B-1/B-2 test stand where the complete S-IC & shuttle core were test fired.

Little did you know an identical set of test stands was built in Huntsville, in an age long before Stennis. The mighty S1C test stand was built from 1960 - 1964 for $30 million & would test the 1st 4 S-IC stages. You can't even buy a house for $30 million, anymore.






http://history.nasa.gov/MHR-5/contents.htm
Construction was delayed when the rocket had to be made more powerful. From 1964-1966, it tested the hell out of the 1st 4 S-IC stages. On Aug 3 1967, the original S1C test stand fired its last S-IC for 40 seconds. All testing had gradually moved to the B-1/B-2 during that year.

The old S1C was modified in 1975 to support a shuttle core, but it's not clear if it was ever used.

http://heroicrelics.org/info/s-ic-te...-facility.html

Another test stand was the equivalent of the A-1, for testing the early F-1's.



It was torn down in 2012 due to lack of money. http://heroicrelics.org/msfc/test-stand-f-1/index.html



The modern B-1/B-2 test stand was built from 1963-1966.


The B-1/B-2 test stand in its glory days.


Looking a bit haggard in 2013. The right side was chopped down to support a delta IV cryogenic core test. The left side is leased by Boeing to test every RS-68 engine. Only the right side was ever used by NASA.

Like the 4 bay VAB, it was overbuilt for a launch rate that never happened. It also could hold down 11 million pounds of thrust from a rocket that was never made. With all future rockets based on bundling smaller cores, no test will ever exceed 2 million pounds again.

The early test stands in Huntsville may have been abandoned because an expanding population couldn't handle the noise, lessons learned made the old test stands obsolete, or they foresaw growth which never happened.

They still live in satellite photos, a reminder of simpler beginnings. In hindsight, those humble beginnings were way more capacity than was ever needed in the future.
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