Stennis Space Center (SSC) is the home of Special Boat Team 22 and Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, as well as other Navy tenants. Those include the Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command which includes the largest concentration of oceanographers in the world, along with the Naval Oceanographic Office and U.S. Naval Research Lab, the Navy’s corporate laboratory. SSC is also home to more than 30 resident agencies, which includes federal, state, academic and private organizations and numerous technology-based companies.
SSC is located in the southwest corner of Mississippi about 50 miles northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, and 30 miles from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. SSC encompasses over 200 square miles of land area including a perimeter buffer zone to insulate surrounding civilian communities from the noise of rocket engine testing by NASA. Please visit our homepage for more information about Stennis Space Center.
There are several different missions as NASA, military and civilian organizations utilize the facility.
Special Boat Team 22, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, as well as other Navy tenants including Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command, Naval Oceanographic Office and U.S. Naval Research Lab, the Navy's corporate laboratory. SSC is also home to more than 30 resident agencies, which includes federal, state, academic and private organizations and numerous technology-based companies.
In the decades before the space age arrived here, the old towns of Gainesville, Napoleon, Santa Rosa, Logtown and Westonia formed a logging and shipping center along the scenic East Pearl River. In time, these settlements gave way to a more high-tech network involving space, oceans and Earth. In October 1961, a historic announcement was made: the federal government had selected an area in Hancock County, Miss., to be the site of a static test facility for launch vehicles to be used in the Apollo manned lunar landing program.
It was the largest construction project in the state of Mississippi and the second largest in the United States at that time. Less than eight years later, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, safely transported thousands of miles by a space vehicle whose boosters were tested and proven flight-worthy at Stennis Space Center.
The selection of this site in Mississippi was a logical and practical one. The land was chosen because of its water access, essential for transporting large rocket stages, components and loads of propellants. It also provided the 13,500-acre test facility with a sound buffer of close to 125,000 acres, which is a national asset.
The center's primary mission at the onset was to flight certify all first and second stages of the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program. This program began with a static test firing on April 23, 1966, and continued into the early 1970s. Proof of the contributions made by Stennis Space Center to America's space program was that all the Apollo space vehicle boosters did their job without a single failure, including those for the Apollo 11 mission the landing of the first men on the moon.
A new chapter was added in June 1975 when the Space Shuttle Main Engine was tested here for the first time. All the engines used to boost the Space Shuttle into low-Earth orbit are flight certified at SSC on the same stands used to test fire all first and second stages of the Saturn V in the Apollo and Skylab programs. Space Shuttle Main Engine testing is expected to proceed well into the 21st century.
Over the years, SSC has evolved into a multidisciplinary facility made up of NASA and 30 other resident agencies engaged in space and environmental programs and the national defense, including the U.S. Navy's world-class oceanographic research community.
SSC has undergone a number of name changes. Its original name, Mississippi Test Operations, was changed to Mississippi Test Facility in 1965. In 1974, the facility was named the National Space Technology Laboratories reporting to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In May 1988, it was renamed the John C. Stennis Space Center in honor of U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis for his steadfast leadership and staunch support of the nation's space program.
By Air: New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and Biloxi/Gulfport Regional Airport (GPT) provide air service to the local area.
By Car: From Louisiana and points west. Take Interstate 10 West to the Stennis Space Center exit. Turn left after exiting the interstate and follow Hwy. 607 to the SSC South Gate Reception Center.
From Mississippi Coast/Mobile/ and points east: Take Interstate 10 East to the Stennis Space Center exit. Turn right after exiting the interstate and follow Hwy. 607 to the SSC South Gate Reception Center.
From Picayune/Hattiesburg/and points north: Follow Hwy 59 South to John C. Stennis Space Center exit. After exiting the highway turn left onto Hwy. 607 and follow to the SSC North Gate Reception Center.
Families transferring to SSC have several options for finding a place to live. Some families choose to live west of SCC in nearby Slidell, La.; in Picayne, Miss. to the north; east in the small planned community of Diamondhead, Miss.; or on or near the nearest military installation, Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, with full service facilities (such as commissary, exchange, theater, Navy Lodge, Fleet and Family Support Center, etc.) which is approximately 45 minutes east of SSC in Gulfport, Mississippi. There is also an Air Force base further east of CBC Gulfport, Keesler AFB, which has a large commissary and exchange as well as a military hospital. Because of the buffer zone and location of SSC, families often live throughout the region. There is privatized military housing in Slidell, please visit their website for more information. You may also, click here for information about the Nickel Creek military housing in Slidell.
For more information on installations near SSC, please visit the following websites:
Other helpful websites:
Center Access & Visitors
Stennis Space Center is not a Department of Defense installation so military family members must have either a command sticker on their dependent ID card, be on the command access list provided to the gate or have a visitor’s pass from the visitor’s center to get onto SSC.
Free tours for the general public are available and start from the Launch Pad at the Hancock County Welcome Center west of Bay St. Louis, Miss., at exit 2 on I-10. StennisSphere offers 14,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, shows and has a space-themed café, Rocketeria. The hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last bus departs at 2:00 PM). Rocketeria is closed on Saturdays and a picnic area is available. Please click here for more information on StennisSphere.
The sponsorship program is another great way to gather information about your new location. All in-bound personnel will be assigned a sponsor after receiving orders. Please contact your assigned unit to inquire about a sponsor. Family members are encouraged to contact the ombudsman at their assigned unit to ask questions, request more information about the area and amenities and request addition to the email roster for information about upcoming events.
For complete information about schools in the area, please click here.
Services & Facilities
On board NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the Navy does operate some facilities.
Child Development Center (CDC)
Part of the Navy Child Youth Programs, the CDC provides affordable, accessible, quality child development programs for children six weeks to five years of age. Open Monday-Friday, 6:00 am – 5:30 pm. The CDC also has a space-available drop in service. Reservations are accepted up to 30 days in advance and prices are $5/hour/child for general use or $3/hour/child for family readiness group meetings or medical appointments (documentation required). Children must be dropped off before 10:30 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m. due to nap and lunch. For information contact 228-688-3224.
Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC)
The FFSC at Stennis Space Center provides counseling and information and referral. The satellite office is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The FFSC is located in Bldg. 1210, Room 147-A. Office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Telephone: 228-813-4070.
The Stennis Gift Store, managed by the Navy Exchange, sells perfume, jewelry, greeting cards, magazines, sundries and gift items Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Building 1100. For additional information, call Branch Manager at 228-688-3046.
The Stennis Mini-Mart [Bldg. 272] offers light groceries from milk and bread to canned foods and baby formula. Also offers hurricane supplies and gift items. New merchandise always arriving. Open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Auto Port 7-3 Monday through Friday, gas station 24 hours with credit card, For additional information, call Branch Manager at 228-688-3046.
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