Brasfield & Gorrie’s Role in Space Exploration

November 17, 2022

An aerial image of a space launch test stand

Did you know that Brasfield & Gorrie played a key role in the launch of Artemis I?

Artemis I is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human and robotic exploration of the moon and Mars. It lifted off for its flight test debut at 1:47 a.m. ET on November 16.

In 2016, Brasfield & Gorrie completed construction of the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Test Stands in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The NASA SLS Test Stands project included the construction of two steel test stands for structural testing of the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank to be used on the most powerful rocket in history. The test stands include more than 7,200 cubic yards of concrete and more than 4,500 tons of structural steel.

The testing expanded the U.S. space program and boosted NASA’s journey to the moon and beyond through the Artemis program. Artemis I is an uncrewed mission to the moon, setting up for future Artemis missions that will eventually land the first woman and person of color on the moon. 

Test Stand 4693

  • The first tower, standing 221 feet tall, is known as Test Stand 4693 and tested the 149-foot SLS liquid hydrogen tank.
  • It was built atop the former Saturn V test stand and required excavation of 17 feet of concrete foundation to expose the rebar underneath and install a new foundation.

Test Stand 4697

  • The second structure, Test Stand 4697, is 97 feet tall and was used to test the liquid oxygen tank.
  • The foundation for Test Stand 4697 was installed on 263 pipe piles, each 12 inches in diameter.
  • The stand itself included large amounts of reinforcing steel, large sections of embedded structural steel, and the installation and alignment of 1,681 6-foot-tall anchor rods.

The SLS Test Stands project received multiple awards, including:

  • National ABC Excellence in Construction Eagle Award,
  • ENR Best of the Best National Award,
  • ENR Southeast Regional Best Project,
  • ABC Alabama and ABC North Alabama Chapter Excellence in Construction awards,
  • ENR Southeast Regional Best Project Award, and
  • USACE Quarterly Celebrate Safety Award.