Michoud Assembly Facility
The Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) is an 832-acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

 (3.4-km²) site owned by NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 and located in New Orleans East
Eastern New Orleans
Eastern New Orleans is a large section of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Developed extensively from the 1960s onwards, it was originally marketed as "suburban-style living within the city limits", and has much in common with the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans...

, a large district within the city of New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Organizationally, it is part of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

. It is one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world with 43 environmentally controlled acres (174000 m² (208,102.3 sq yd)) under one roof, and it employs approximately 3,700 people. Since September 5, 1973, it has been used for the construction of the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

's External Tanks
Space Shuttle external tank
A Space Shuttle External Tank is the component of the Space Shuttle launch vehicle that contains the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer. During lift-off and ascent it supplies the fuel and oxidizer under pressure to the three Space Shuttle Main Engines in the orbiter...

 by its lead contractor Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

. The Michoud Assembly Facility is currently a multi-tenant complex maintained and operated by Jacobs Technology in order to allow both commercial and government contractors, as well as government agencies to use the site.


The facility was originally constructed in 1940 at the village of Michoud, Louisiana
Michoud, Louisiana
Michoud [MĒĒ-shū] is an area in Eastern New Orleans, part of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, located at latitude 30.03N, longitude -89.925W....

 by Higgins-Tucker division of Higgins Industries
Higgins Industries
Higgins Industries was the company owned by Andrew Higgins based in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Higgins is most famous for the design and production of the Higgins boat, an amphibious landing craft referred to as LCVP, which were used extensively in D-Day Invasion of Normandy...

 under the direction of Andrew Jackson Higgins
Andrew Higgins
Andrew Jackson Higgins was the founder and owner of Higgins Industries, the New Orleans-based manufacturer of "Higgins boats" during World War II. General Dwight Eisenhower is quoted as saying, "Andrew Higgins ... is the man who won the war for us. .....

 on behalf of the United States government for the war production during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 to make plywood C-46
C-46 Commando
The Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando was a transport aircraft originally derived from a commercial high-altitude airliner design. It was instead used as a military transport during World War II by the United States Army Air Forces as well as the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps under the designation R5C...

 cargo plane
Cargo aircraft
A cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are usually devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo...

s and landing craft
Landing craft
Landing craft are boats and seagoing vessels used to convey a landing force from the sea to the shore during an amphibious assault. Most renowned are those used to storm the beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, and many Pacific islands during WWII...

. During the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 it made engines for Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

 and Patton
Patton tank
Patton tank may refer to:*M46 Patton, a tank model operational during the Korean War*M47 Patton, a tank model in service from 1952 through 1959 with the U.S. Army, and through the mid 1990s in foreign service...

 tanks. It came under the management of NASA in 1961 and was used for the construction of the S-IC
The S-IC was the first stage of the Saturn V rocket. The S-IC first stage was built by The Boeing Company. Like the first stages of most rockets, most of its mass of over two thousand metric tonnes at launch was propellant, in this case RP-1 rocket fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer...

 first stage of the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 rocket and the S-IB
The S-IB stage was the first stage of the Saturn IB launch vehicle, which was used for Earth orbital missions. It was composed of nine propellant containers, eight fins, a thrust structure assembly, eight H-1 rocket engines, and many other components...

 first stage of the Saturn IB
Saturn IB
The Saturn IB was an American launch vehicle commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for use in the Apollo program...

 rocket. It is home to the first stage of the last constructed Saturn V, SA-515.

The Michoud Assembly Facility has been most closely associated with the construction and production of NASA's External Tank (ET) program. Throughout the Space Shuttle program, the facility produced 136 tanks. Rollout for ET-1 used for STS-1
STS-1 was the first orbital flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Space Shuttle Columbia launched on 12 April 1981, and returned to Earth on 14 April, having orbited the Earth 37 times during the 54.5-hour mission. It was the first American manned space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project...

 was on June 29, 1979. The last flight ready tank, ET-122, rolled out on September 20, 2010. Only one tank produced at the facility, ET-94, was not used in spaceflight and remained at Michoud as a test article
Test article
A test article is a version of space craft or related vehicle or equipement, built as a platform to perform testing. Test articles are built to the same specifications to replicate conditions and behaviors of flight ready versions. Test article version are also built without the certification and...


Hurricane Katrina

The facility did not experience significant flooding during Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 due to a natural ridge
A ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size. There are several main types of ridges:...

 that runs along its northwestern boundary, the levee
A levee, levée, dike , embankment, floodbank or stopbank is an elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels...

 that makes up the southern and eastern boundaries, and due to the work of the pump operators who stayed to protect the facility during the storm. There was wind damage and rain-water damage to several buildings. All shifts were initially canceled up to September 26, 2005, potentially setting back future Shuttle flights. All the buildings and the shuttle hardware within survived the hurricane without grave damage, but the roof of the main building was breached and debris damaged ET-122 stored inside, that tank was refurbished and later flew on the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

, STS-134
STS-134 was the penultimate mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The mission marked the 25th and final flight of . This flight delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station. Mark Kelly served as the mission commander...

. On September 16, 2005 NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 announced that the repairs were progressing faster than anticipated, and so they would continue to use Michoud for external tank work. On October 3, 2005, the facility officially reopened for essential personnel, though some key personnel had returned earlier. On October 31, 2005, the facility reopened to all personnel. Thirty-eight NASA and Lockheed Martin employees stayed behind during Hurricane Katrina to man the pumping systems. They pumped more than one billion gallons of water out of the facility and more than likely were the reason that the Michoud Facility suffered very little damage. These employees were each awarded the Exceptional Bravery Medal, NASA's highest bravery award.

Other and future activities

The Michoud Assembly Facility also houses other organizations such as the National Finance Center
National Finance Center
The National Finance Center is a federal government agency that provides human resources, financial and administrative services for agencies of the United States federal government...

 operated by the United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

, the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, and the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a partnership between the state of Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, the University of New Orleans
University of New Orleans
The University of New Orleans, often referred to locally as UNO, is a medium-sized public urban university located on the New Orleans Lakefront within New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is a member of the LSU System and the Urban 13 association. Currently UNO is without a proper chancellor...

, Blade Dynamics and NASA.

NASA planned to use the Michoud Assembly Facility to build the structure for several components of the Constellation Program, including the Orion spacecraft
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

, the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 Upper Stage, and the Ares V
Ares V
The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

Core Stage.

Further reading

External links

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