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‘Exciting time for the space industry’: Dynetics opens world-class Decatur complex on Tuesday

Huntsville-based Dynetics on Tuesday morning will hold the grand opening for its new Aerospace Structures Complex in Decatur.

The new, cutting-edge complex brings a capability to North Alabama to support the development, integration and structural testing of large aerospace structures.

Initially, Dynetics will use this complex to support two major space endeavors rooted in the Yellowhammer State: building the NASA Space Launch System’s (SLS) Universal Stage Adapter and performing structural qualification testing for United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur booster.

SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket ever when completed and power Americans back to the Moon — and eventually Mars. The program is managed at Marshall Space Flight Center.

“It’s an exciting time for the space industry,” Kim Doering, Dynetics vice president of Space Systems, said in a statement.

“NASA’s exploration programs including the Space Launch System, Human Lander System and Gateway afford the Alabama space community the opportunity to make significant contributions to the establishment of a human lunar economy and to landing humans on mars,” she outlined.

Doering added, “ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur launcher will provide a critical capability to support defense of our nation and to support the burgeoning small satellite market. Dynetics decided to build this complex so we could contribute to these vital projects. Our new complex will play an essential role within Alabama’s aerospace landscape.”

The complex, which will be multi-use and serve NASA, Department of Defense and commercial customers, has three facilities: Test Stand 1, Test Control Center and the Hardware Integration Facility.

The Test Stand 1 is 60 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 100 feet high with the capability to hoist 35 tons. It will support structural qualification testing.

The 4,000 square foot Test Control Center offers customers the capability to view tests and analyze real-time data onsite.

The Hardware Integration Facility allows for the assembly of large aerospace structures and houses test cells. Within the 43,000 square foot facility, the integration high bay is 15,000 square feet.

Through a strategic alliance, ULA’s Vulcan Centaur qualification booster will be tested to validate the Vulcan’s advanced design and manufacturing technology. The booster will be in the Test Stand 1 at the grand opening, which will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

ULA builds rockets at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Decatur.

“The strategic location and partnership with Dynetics provides ULA with advanced testing capabilities that will benefit the Vulcan Centaur program,” said Mark Peller, vice president of Major Development for ULA.

“This structural test article is an important step in ensuring that the Vulcan Centaur is ready to launch in 2021 supporting our nation’s national security space program,” he concluded.

Dynetics selected the Decatur site because of the area’s storied history of rocket development and testing, its proximity to the company’s varied customers and its convenient location on the Tennessee River — enabling ease of transportation. From its opening, this testing complex will bring 25 jobs to the area, with even more to be added later.

The Huntsville-headquartered company, which is celebrating 45 years of operations, broke ground on the complex in August of 2017.

You can view an infographic on the complex here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn