NASA Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science Facilities
Since the 1960’s, RS&H’s designs for manned and unmanned orbital and suborbital launch facilities, processing buildings, and ground support equipment for NASA have been instrumental in the advancement of space exploration and technology. As an addition to this noble history, RS&H was asked to assist in the planning programming and design of facilities that curate samples taken from these explorations.
The Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) is responsible for several unique Agency capabilities within the center; planetary sample return curation, cosmochemistry, lunar advanced science, Mars fundamental research and orbital debris assessment. As such, ARES has funded commitments well beyond 2020 with numerous commercial and mission partners requiring facilities. However, the risks associated with ARES aging infrastructure and segregation of Ares functions in many buildings across the JSC campus put the organizations’ ability to effectively support those Agency goals and partner commitments in jeopardy.
RS&H was asked to analyze and quantify the organization’s need, assess the conditions of each of the existing facilities, and to develop an effective strategy that provides a framework for sustainable capabilities. The assessment included more than 200 people, 14 technical groups spread across six different buildings. The study resulted in the consolidation of the ARES Division within two buildings and a projection for the addition of an annex to one of the facilities. The area of the facility plan totaled approximately 81,000 square feet.
The first components of the strategy included the design of approximately 10,600 square feet to contain a new Asteroid Sample Curation clean room suite to house samples returning to earth from the Osiris-Rex and Hyabusa 2 asteroid research missions, a new advanced cleaning suite, and a temporary consolidated home for the Mars research laboratories.
It has been an honor to serve NASA for more than 50 years and this latest assignment was one of the most challenging and fascinating efforts to date.
“RS&H’s ability to break down functional requirements across our diverse groups quickly allowed us to successfully win finding for major facility projects… RS&H demonstrated effective laboratory planning to facilitate work efficiency in environments ranging from dirty, high temperature, high pressure experimental laboratories, to handling sub-micron sized astromaterial samples in ISO Class 5 Laboratories…NASA looks forward to a long relationship with RS&H…Their work comes highly recommended.” -Lisa Pace, Deputy Division Chief, NASA Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science