There are several different missions as NASA, military and civilian organizations utilize the facility. Stennis is America's largest rocket engine test complex
In the decades before the space age arrived here, the old towns of Gainesville, Napoleon, Santa Rosa, Logtown and Westonia formed a logging and shipping center along the scenic East Pearl River. In time, these settlements gave way to a more high-tech network involving space, oceans and Earth. In October 1961, a historic announcement was made: the federal government had selected an area in Hancock County, Mississippi, to be the site of a static test facility for launch vehicles to be used in the Apollo manned lunar landing program.
It was the largest construction project in the state of Mississippi and the second largest in the United States at that time. Less than eight years later, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, safely transported thousands of miles by a space vehicle whose boosters were tested and proven flight-worthy at Stennis Space Center.
The selection of this site in Mississippi was a logical and practical one. The land was chosen because of its water access, essential for transporting large rocket stages, components and loads of propellants. It also provided the 13,500-acre test facility with a sound buffer of close to 125,000 acres, which is a national asset.
The center's primary mission at the onset was to flight certify all first and second stages of the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program. This program began with a static test firing on April 23, 1966, and continued into the early 1970s. Proof of the contributions made by Stennis Space Center to America's space program was that all the Apollo space vehicle boosters did their job without a single failure, including those for the Apollo 11 mission the landing of the first men on the Moon.
A new chapter was added in June 1975 when the Space Shuttle Main Engine was tested here for the first time. All the engines used to boost the Space Shuttle into low-Earth orbit are flight certified at SSC on the same stands used to test fire all first and second stages of the Saturn V in the Apollo and Skylab programs. The program ended in 2011 after 135 missions.
In January 2015, Stennis began testing the RS-25 engines that power NASA’s newest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), that will take the first person of color and next human to the Moon. In preparation for the initial launch of SLS, Stennis completed the Green Run test of the rocket’s core stage in March 2021. NASA successfully launched SLS into space as part of the Artemis I mission in November 2022.
Over the years, SSC has evolved into a multidisciplinary facility made up of NASA and about 40 other resident agencies engaged in space, environmental programs, and the national defense, including the U.S. Navy's world-class oceanographic research community.
Special Boat Team 22, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, as well as other Navy tenants including Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command, Naval Oceanographic Office and U.S. Naval Research Lab, the Navy's corporate laboratory. Stennis Space Center is also home to about 40 resident agencies, which includes federal, state, academic, and private organizations, and numerous technology-based companies.
Stennis Space Center (SSC) is the home of Special Boat Team 22 and Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, as well as other Navy tenants. Those include the Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command which includes the largest concentration of oceanographers in the world, along with the Naval Oceanographic Office and U.S. Naval Research Lab, the Stennis Space Center is located in the southwest corner of Mississippi about 50 miles northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, and 30 miles from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. SSC encompasses over 200 square miles of land area including a perimeter buffer zone to insulate surrounding civilian communities from the noise of rocket engine testing by NASA. Please visit our homepage for more information about Stennis Space Center. On Interstate 10 out of Louisiana, Stennis is reached by taking the first exit and following the signs.
The John C. Stennis Space Center is a NASA rocket testing facility. It is located in Hancock County, Mississippi, on the banks of the Pearl River at the Mississippi–Louisiana border. As of 2012, it is NASA's largest rocket engine test facility. There are over 30 local, state, national, international, private, and public companies and agencies using SSC for their rocket testing facilities.
Stennis Space Center is not a Department of Defense installation so military family members must have their dependent ID card, be on the command access list provided to the gate or have a visitor’s pass from the visitor’s center to get onto SSC.
INFINITY Science Center is a state-of-the-art science and space educational center open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Passport holders receive a commemorative stamp in their Passport, $2 off admission, $1 off the Omega Thrill Ride and a 10% discount at the restaurant. See the front desk to receive your Passport and stamp!
Bus tours of NASA Stennis Space Center depart INFINITY Monday – Saturday at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Bus tours are offered on a first come, first serve basis.
Individual guests older than 18 years must present a valid photo ID; those younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Non US citizens must present a valid passport from their country of origin or a permanent residence card, if applicable. Backpacks and large bags are not permitted; all other bags are subject to search.
Bus tours are included in your ticket price to the INFINITY Science Center. Due to limited seating, however, they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours last approximately forty minutes and offer a behind-the-scenes look at America’s largest rocket engine test facility.
The guided twenty-mile ride passes through the restricted gates of the 14,000-acre research facility at the heart of the 125,000-acre Stennis buffer zone. An experienced guide will explain the history of the site and reveal astonishing facts about some of the ground-breaking scientific work happening at Stennis Space Center on a daily basis.
Built in the 1960′s to test the history-making Saturn V rocket engines that carried men to the moon, the Stennis complex now hosts a vast array of federal, state and educational agencies – as well as private high tech companies and corporations like Rolls Royce. It’s also home to the largest concentration of oceanographers in the world, most of whom are working at the U.S. Navy's Meteorology and Oceanography Command based here.
By Car: From Louisiana and points west. Take Interstate 10 West to the Stennis Space Center exit. Turn left after exiting the interstate and follow Hwy. 607 to the SSC South Gate Reception Center.
By Air: New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and Biloxi/Gulfport Regional Airport (GPT) provide air service to the local area.
From Mississippi Coast/Mobile/ and points east: Take Interstate 10 East to the Stennis Space Center exit. Turn right after exiting the interstate and follow Hwy. 607 to the SSC South Gate Reception Center.
From Picayune/Hattiesburg/and points north: Follow Hwy 59 South to John C. Stennis Space Center exit. After exiting the highway turn left onto Hwy. 607 and follow to the SSC North Gate Reception Center.