Kennedy Space Center to perform shuttle modifications
Posted: February 5, 2002

After completing detailed, independent cost and risk assessments, the agency has decided to perform Space Shuttle Orbiter Major Modifications (OMM) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Columbia rolls out of Boeing's Palmdale plant after completing an overhaul last year. Photo: Boeing
Since the inception of the Space Shuttle program, the Palmdale Manufacturing Facility in California has served as the manufacturing site for all orbiters, in addition to the primary location for performing periodic maintenance and safety upgrades.

However, beginning immediately with the Space Shuttle Discovery, which is scheduled for its periodic structural inspection and maintenance period in early spring, the work will be moved to KSC.

NASA Headquarters' Office of Space Flight made the decision following an extensive review. While it was determined that either KSC or Palmdale could support the current Space Shuttle launch schedule, keeping two modification facilities active to support four orbiters is no longer feasible in today's fiscal environment. Program managers believe significant infrastructure savings would be realized performing the major modifications in Florida. Shifting work to KSC would also minimize risk.

"This decision reflects NASA's primary goal of maintaining safety as its primary objective and then evaluating cost savings and risks associated with that decision," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said. "It is obvious that in the current fiscal environment, it makes more sense to perform this work at the launch site for the foreseeable future."

The decision was reached after evaluating site selection criteria established by the Office of Space Flight, which included cost and risk, manifest impacts, shuttle flight schedule, management and workforce skills and experience, major modification performance in the past and present, facility utilization and centralization of operations.

While both KSC and Palmdale could support the OMM, managers determined keeping both active to support four orbiters is no longer practical or feasible given the current shuttle manifest and budget environment.