1983 Rocketdyne Open House

In the 1980s Rocketdyne held two open houses, where employees could bring family and friends, and cameras, which ordinarily were forbidden inside the facility. The first one was ~May 1983, judging from the poster showing Space Shuttle missions flown to date; STS-6 flew in April 1983; STS-7 in June 1983.

The first pic is outside near the southeast corner of the largest Rocketdyne building, visible from both Victory Blvd. and Canoga Avenue. The door at the corner was an emergency exit only; people entered past a security booth at the far end of that wall.

Next is the main entrance to the facility for visitors, facing Canoga Avenue, with the big F-1 engine, a legacy of the Saturn V rockets used during the Apollo era, prominently displayed in front.

My first desk. In 1983, there were no mainframe terminals on our desks, let alone PCs.

Documentation. There was no “online” of course. All our requirements docs, design docs, code listings, change notices, and so on, where kept hard copy in those distinctive blue Rockwell binders.

My desk and many others like it were part of the standard cubicle farm of that era. The managers got cubicles with higher walls and doors along the wall.

Here are two photos of the the software simulation lab, where the software team would do first-pass tests of changes to the software. The SSME Controller is the black box at the back of the first pic; everything else is simulation and test equipment.

Here’s a print out of the code.

Next are four photos from the factory floor, where the SSMEs were constructed. I can’t speak to any of the details of what are in these photos. I never had any occasion to visit the factory floor, or to know what went on there.

This is what was called the SSME Powerhead. The propellants (oxygen and hydrogen) came in from each side, mixed in the main fuel chamber, and went out through the big nozzle attached to the center.

Here’s that poster of shuttle missions to date. STS stood for “Space Transportation System” and was official NASA lingo for the shuttle missions.

Finally, two photos of an actual SSME itself. The sign says its Engine 2019, and indicates a ship date of “5 15 83” so presumably it was just about to leave the plant.