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From the ground up: ground broken for new astronaut facility

Preparing to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration will be a new challenge for everyone at Johnson Space Center, beginning literally from the ground up. May 13 marked another step towards the new vision here at JSC with the groundbreaking ceremony for the newest building on site -- Building 27, the Astronaut Quarantine Facility.

This new building will be located along Fifth Street, immediately north of Building 28, and will continue the duties of Building 259, the current Astronaut Selection and Isolation Quarters. It will be used as an isolation facility for flight crews to stay three to four days prior to upcoming Shuttle flights. Russian cosmonauts will also use this upon their return from space missions.

Initial planning to build the new facility began in 2000.

“This building was designed to meet requirements by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, making it able to use recycled and environmentally friendly materials,” said Project Manager Larry Shelmire of the Center Operations Directorate. D.E. Harvey Builders of Houston will be the acting general contractor.

The highly anticipated completion date is planned for the spring of 2005. The location was chosen because there is enough land area to build other surrounding buildings in the future, such as a Rehabilitation, Strength and Conditioning Facility and Bio-Astronautics Facility.

The astronauts will feel right at home when they stay in the 12-bedroom Quarantine Facility equipped with private baths, a kitchen and a fully equipped workout room.

Click for larger imager
Astronaut John Young speaks at the groundbreaking.
Building 27 will also include a medical exam room where the astronauts will receive their pre- and postflight exams. The crewmembers will be able to enjoy visits with their adult family members here before leaving for Kennedy Space Center. Any visitors will have to receive all of the necessary medical screening before visiting the crewmembers.

Building 259 began as a warehouse in 1967 and undertook certain modifications in the early 1980s in order to become the Astronaut Selection and Isolation Quarters for the Shuttle program. Many astronauts look at the current facility as a special place with a lot of history where they have shared many unforgettable moments together as a crew before leaving for launch.

Astronaut Pam Melroy said that the current facility is “positively soaked with laughter and intense emotions of crewmembers and their spouses sharing dinner before leaving for KSC.” She said she feels like JSC needs a new facility because of the aging of the old one, and hopes that the new facility will bring JSC up to date and help prepare for the unique challenges of long-duration crews.

Trisha Sims
Johnson Space Center, Houston

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Updated: 05/27/2004