Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility (B-2)
As part of NASA’s Constellation Program, the Plum Brook Spacecraft Propulsion Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio, a part of the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), was to be upgraded from its Apollo-era roots of the 1960s. The upgrades were to prepare the Plum Brook B-2 Test Chamber for rocket engine testing in support of the Ares Launch Vehicles. The B-2 Test Chamber had been designated as a potential site for "deep space vacuum" and "ultra-low temperature" simulation developmental testing. Such testing would include restrained “hot firing” of the larger rocket engines associated with the Constellation Program. Modifications to the B-2 Test Chamber would be required to accommodate the testing of such rocket engines.
At the request of NASA GRC, A. M. Kinney, Inc. (AMK) conducted extensive physical and analytical investigations into the modifications required to upgrade the rocket exhaust systems at B-2. AMK enlisted the services of two key teaming partners to assist in performing the detailed scientific and engineering analysis required for the study. AMK assigned Belcan Advanced Engineering and Technology Division of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the responsibility for scientific studies related to the exhaust diffuser, the steam blocker, the flow diverter, and the isolation valve systems in the B-2 test facility, including the Finite Element Modeling (FEM) of the systems. AMK retained PEDCO E & A Services of Cincinnati, Ohio for the engineering studies related to the steam systems (500 & 1000 psig) including accumulators, the water systems (totaling over 500,000 GPM with elevated storage tanks), the electrical distribution systems (24,000 KW test load), and the facility control systems.AMK provided the overall Program Management services, and did all civil engineering, structural engineering, and architectural design studies. AMK also provided the construction cost estimating services, the construction scheduling services, and the editing, preparation and publication of NASA's formal "Preliminary Engineering Report" (PER) at the completion of the project.
NASA's original project approach called for the B-2 facility to be upgraded to accommodate testing of liquid fueled rocket engines for durations of up to 550 seconds. During the course of the engineering analyses, the AMK Team determined that the volume of cooling water necessary for such long duration firing tests would exceed the upgraded facility’s capacities. Therefore, NASA program requirements were modified to eliminate consideration of testing the engines for long duration (550 sec.) firing tests. The final approved project scope resulted in an estimated construction and renovation cost estimate of $120 million.