(NOTE: Pictures of the event are posted on this website.)
The open house began at the Kalahari convention center. Visitors then had the option of taking a tour bus to the Plum Brook station. The station allowed touring within two test facilities: the space power facility and the B-2 facility. The wind tunnel however was closed to tours due to the testing of a commercial aircraft.
The space power facility hosted 500 people in August 2011 for the shooting of the opening scene of “The Avengers” film. The facility has also tested rocket parts, Mars landers and space stations.
The B-2 facility will be testing an engine for a rocket bound for Mars. The test will take place in October.
The open house occurred during a break of testing for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. About 15,000 people attended the special event Saturday and Sunday.
“The last open house was eight years ago,” director David Stringer said. “We are gratified to show so many people what we do.”
Stringer noted his appreciation for the local community.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the men and women (who) live around Plum Brook Station — including all of the support and team work,” Stringer said.
Richard Sorge, the directer of the acoustic chamber in the space power facility, mentioned the practicality of having four full-scale test facilities in one station.
“All of the environmental tests are in one building,” Sorge said. “There’s no scaling or transporting from place to place.”
Sorge pointed out several different aspects could be tested in the facility, including temperature, extreme pressure, acoustics, vibrations and more.
“Those who test in our place tend to be highly successful,” Stringer said.
Brian Jones, engineer of the B-2 facility, said he hopes the open house brings awareness to the community.
“They’ll know we exist, that there’s an actual NASA in Sandusky,” Jones said.
“Ohio plays a big role in the space exploration,” spokeswoman Jan Wittry said.