The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Michoud Assembly Facility inhabits an 832-acre site occupied by plantations in the nineteenth century. From the 1960s to 2010 the facility was used for the assembly of the first-stage external booster tanks for the Saturn V rockets. Some of the buildings, however, date back to 1940 when Higgins Industries acquired the site for the production of landing craft for use in World War II (see OR122); in 1942, production shifted to aircraft. When the plant closed in 1945 and was transferred to the War Assets Administration, the site included a long reinforcedconcrete-framed brick building, which is highlighted at its center with a frontispiece of eight piers, giving it a classical dignity. From 1951 to 1954, the facility was used by the Chrysler Corporation to build tank engines for the U.S. government for the Korean War. In 1961, NASA selected the site for the space program. The facility was enlarged, including a massive H-shaped engineering and office building (August Perez and Associates), and, in 1964, a 203-foot vertical Assembly Building for assembling the booster tanks. The structure was constructed with a brick base and corrugated asbestos walls above. The first booster tank was completed in 1977, loaded on a barge, and shipped to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi; in 1979 it was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center. Between 1979 and 2010 the facility produced 136 booster tanks. The site is now a multi-tenant manufacturing facility. In front of the brick building facing Old Gentilly Road are two brick chimneys, the remnants of the early-nineteenth-century sugar mill that once stood here on Antoine Michoud’s plantation.
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NASA Michoud Assembly Facility
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