For the first time ever, the public is invited to
witness the smoke and flames of an evening test of a Space Shuttle Main
(SSME) at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center on Tuesday, April 17.
for ignition at 7:45 p.m., the spectacular test will mark Stennis Space
20th anniversary celebration of the first Space Shuttle mission.

A highlight of the public engine test will be a special appearance by former
astronaut Donald E. Williams who flew aboard the Space Shuttle twice, once
1985 as pilot and again as shuttle commander in 1989. Williams will be on
for a question and answer session prior to the test. “Real” rocket
will also give educational and informative presentations throughout the

“The testing of the Space Shuttle Main Propulsion Test Article (MPTA) at
Stennis Space Center is considered by many as the finest hour in the history
our center,” Stennis Propulsion Test Directorate Director Boyce Mix said.
MPTA brought together all three of the first Space Shuttle Main Engines, an
external tank and a simulated aft section of an orbiter to flight certify
propulsion system for the very first Space Shuttle launch in 1981.”

Today, the center remains NASA’s proving ground for all Space Shuttle Main
Engines and plays an integral role in testing component and propulsion
for the future. The 520-second test on April 17th will be a flight
test for the Pratt & Whitney high pressure fuel turbopump.

Soft drinks and hot dogs will be available for purchase in the viewing area.
Water and restroom facilities will be available, since visitors may be
to wait approximately one hour before testing begins.

For this special event only, visitors will be allowed to drive directly onto
Stennis Space Center through either the north or south gates. Security
and posted signs will direct them along a strictly controlled route to a
area where they will take shuttle buses the rest of the way to the viewing
stand. Buses will also shuttle visitors from the viewing area back to the
parking lot at the conclusion of the test.

Visitors who ride a shuttle bus from the Launch Pad at the Mississippi I-10
Welcome Center in Hancock County to StenniSphere will also be able to catch
shuttle bus from StenniSphere to the viewing area to see the SSME test
After the test, spectators may return to the parking area to leave the space
center or ride the shuttle bus back to the Launch Pad.