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NASA Selects ACMI as Second Approved Exploration Park Facility

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HOUSTON, Feb. 29, 2024 ~ NASA and the American Center for Manufacturing and Innovation (ACMI) have joined forces to further advance the development of commercial and defense space manufacturing. On Thursday, Feb. 29, the two organizations signed an agreement to lease underutilized land in a 240-acre Exploration Park at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

This agreement marks the second public/private lease agreement between NASA and industry partners, following a similar lease with the Texas A&M University System earlier this month. The goal of these agreements is to create a collaborative development environment that will increase commercial access and enhance the United States' competitiveness in the space and aerospace industries.

The newly leased land, which will be known as the Space Systems Campus, will be used by ACMI to establish an applied research facility in partnership with various stakeholders from academia, state and local government, the Department of Defense, and regional economic development organizations.

"NASA Johnson has been at the forefront of human space exploration for over 60 years," said Vanessa Wyche, Director of NASA Johnson. "The Space Systems Campus will play a significant role in our efforts to build a robust and sustainable space economy that will not only benefit our nation's exploration efforts but also humanity as a whole."

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As home to Mission Control Center for human space missions, astronaut training facilities, robotics labs, human health research centers, and more, NASA Johnson is well-positioned to lead the way in human exploration. The Exploration Park at Johnson will play a crucial role in achieving U.S. goals for commercialization and development of a strong space economy by providing an infrastructure that encourages collaboration between academic researchers, aerospace companies, entrepreneurs, and NASA.

Simon Shewmaker, head of development for ACMI Properties stated that their aim is to support human spaceflight missions for at least 40 years through this new campus. "We are committed to serving the needs of our future tenants as well as other stakeholders within our ecosystem approach," he said.

The undeveloped and underutilized land near Saturn Lane was made available for lease through a proposal announcement by NASA on June 9, 2023. After negotiations, the lease agreement with ACMI has been finalized. The parcel of land is located outside of Johnson's controlled access area and adjacent to its main campus. The initial lease will be for 20 years with two 20-year extension options, potentially allowing for a total of 60 years.

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In the coming years, NASA and its partners from academia, industry, and other countries will see the completion of the International Space Station Program, the commercial development of low Earth orbit, and the first human missions as part of the Artemis campaign to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon in preparation for future missions to Mars.

Johnson Space Center is already leading the way in commercializing space through programs such as commercial cargo and crew missions to the International Space Station and private astronaut missions. The center is also supporting the development of commercial space stations in low Earth orbit, as well as lunar-capable spacesuits and landers that will be available as services to both NASA and private companies to accelerate human access to space.

Through Exploration Park, Johnson Space Center aims to expand its reach within the human spaceflight community by tackling some of the most challenging obstacles ahead. With this new partnership with ACMI, NASA is taking another step towards a robust and sustainable future in space exploration.
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