DECATUR, Alabama – Dynetics today opened a rocket-testing facility in North Alabama that will help advance major programs such as NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the space agency’s most powerful rocket, and the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur, a next-generation launch vehicle.
Huntsville-based Dynetics said its Aerospace Structures Complex will support the development, integration and structural testing of large rocket components.
Initially, Dynetics will use the facility to build the SLS’s Universal Stage Adapter, which will connect the rocket to NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
The new Dynetics complex will also perform structural qualification testing for the booster of the Vulcan Centaur, which is being produced at ULA’s factory in Decatur.
“It’s an exciting time for the space industry,” said Kim Doering, Dynetics vice president of Space Systems. “NASA’s exploration programs including the Space Launch System, Human Lander System and Gateway afford the Alabama space community the opportunity to make significant contributions to the establishment of a human lunar economy and to landing humans on mars.”
In addition, Doeing said, ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur launcher will provide a critical capability to support national security and support the burgeoning small satellite market.
“Dynetics decided to build this complex so we could contribute to these vital projects. Our new complex will play an essential role within Alabama’s aerospace landscape.”
The Aerostructures Structures Complex is composed of three facilities.
- Test Stand 1 stands 100 feet high, with the capability of hoisting 35 tons for structural testing.
- The 43,000-square-foot Hardware Integration Facility allows for the assembly of large aerospace structures and houses test cells.
- A Test Control Center allows customers to analyze real-time testing data onsite.
Dynetics, which has locations in 10 states, said it selected the Decatur site for the complex because of the area’s rich history of rocket development and testing.
The complex will initially bring 25 jobs to the site, with more jobs to be added later.
“Dynetics’ new Aerospace Structures Complex represents an impressive new asset in Alabama’s dynamic space community,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“This facility will support and advance major programs that will keep our nation safe and allow mankind to embark on ambitious new explorations of space.”
At a grand opening ceremony today, ULA’s Vulcan Centaur qualification booster stood in Test Stand 1.
“The strategic location and partnership with Dynetics provides ULA with advanced testing capabilities that will benefit the Vulcan Centaur program,” said Mark Peller, vice president of major development for ULA.
“This structural test article is an important step in ensuring that the Vulcan Centaur is ready to launch in 2021 supporting our nation’s national security space program,” he added.