NASA Designates ACMI as the Second Validated Exploration Park Establishment

NASA Designates ACMI as the Second Validated Exploration Park Establishment

A lease agreement for unused property in a 240-acre Exploration Park at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston was signed on Thursday, February 29 between NASA and the American Center for Manufacturing and Innovation (ACMI). The construction of facilities for commercial and defense space manufacturing will be made possible by ACMI.

This is the second public-private lease agreement of its kind that permits business and academic institutions to use NASA Johnson property to establish facilities for a cooperative development environment that boosts commercial access and the commercial competitiveness of the United States in the space and aerospace industries. Earlier this month, NASA and the Texas A&M University System signed a similar lease.

ACMI intends to establish an applied research center called the Space Systems Campus, in collaboration with various partners from academia, state and municipal government, the Department of Defense, and regional economic development groups.

“For more than 60 years, NASA Johnson has been the hub of human space exploration,” said NASA Johnson Director Vanessa Wyche. “This Space Systems Campus will be a significant component within our objectives for a robust and durable space economy that will benefit not only the nation’s efforts to explore the Moon, Mars and the asteroids, but all of humanity as the benefits of space exploration research roll home to Earth.”

NASA Johnson sets the standard for human exploration as the location of the Mission Control Center, which oversees the agency’s human space missions, astronaut training, robotics, human health, and space medicine. By utilizing its special position and setting, Exploration Park will be instrumental in supporting the human spaceflight community in achieving American objectives for the commercialization and growth of a strong space industry. This will be achieved by building an environment that is multipurpose and allows NASA, aerospace firms, and entrepreneurs to work together. The infrastructure that Exploration Park will provide will enable a multipurpose space hardware development environment where entrepreneurs, aerospace corporations, and university researchers can work together to address the most pressing issues facing space exploration.

On June 9, 2023, NASA published a request for ideas about the use of the vacant and underutilized area close to Saturn Lane. NASA has now finalized the official leasing agreement negotiations with ACMI. The property is close to Johnson’s main campus but outside of its restricted access area. NASA has agreed to a 20-year lease on the area, with two further 20-year options, for a maximum lease term of 60 years.

The International Space Station Program will be completed, low Earth orbit will be developed commercially, and the first human Artemis campaign missions will establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon in advance of human missions to Mars. These developments will take place in the coming years for NASA and its academic, commercial, and international partners.

With private astronaut flights to the space station as well as commercial crew and cargo operations, Johnson is already spearheading the commercialization of space. In order to expedite human access to space, the center is also supporting the development of commercial space stations in low Earth orbit, as well as commercial spacesuits and lunar landers that are capable of going to space. These projects will be supplied as services to NASA and the private sector. The center’s creation of Exploration Park will increase the number of people involved in human spaceflight who are taking on the many challenging tasks that lie ahead.

Sanchita Patil

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