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NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Gains Utility-Financed Infrastructure Improvements


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Florida Power and Light (FPL) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced the completion of a $3.1 million utility energy services contract (UESC) with NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in east central Florida. The Space Center, with more than 700 facilities on site, is the primary NASA center for the launch of manned space vehicles, probes, and satellites. KSC also maintains and launches the Space Shuttle Orbiter Vehicles, supplies cryogenic propellants, and maintains payloads for joint missions.

This historic national landmark and the nation’s premiere launch site for manned space flight presented several opportunities to upgrade existing facilities with modern energy-efficient systems and equipment.

The contract called for FPL to perform energy conservation measures and demand side management projects at several key Space Center facilities. FPL provided turnkey services for these projects including feasibility studies, design, construction, commissioning, and financing.

In total, the project is expected to reduce the Space Center’s electrical consumption by more than 8 million kilowatthours per year—enough energy to power 670 new homes in Florida—and save the government $442,500 in power costs annually. In partnership with FPL and through other KSC-sponsored programs, the Space Center has been able to reduce its annual energy consumption by more than 20 percent compared to a 1985 baseline.

Working in high-security Space Center facilities with limited and restricted access and often vulnerable to work stoppages due to Shuttle processing and launch requirements, the system upgrades and efficiency measures were accomplished without interrupting the Space Center’s mission critical operations. The project included a variety of energy conservation measures in several facilities, described below.

Solid Rocket Booster Assembly and Refurbishment Facility

Refurbishment and sub-assembly of inert solid rocket booster hardware takes place in this facility. To provide better central chiller plant operations while lowering energy usage, FPL replaced and downsized the chiller plant’s condenser water pumps used for cooling the complex’s water distribution system. The chiller plant’s two 200-horsepower compressed air systems required removal and replacement. In addition, the lighting systems throughout the facility were upgraded.

Launch Control Center

The Launch Control Center contains two primary and one backup control rooms. In this facility, FPL replaced the remaining T-12 fluorescent and incandescent lighting and magnetic ballasts.

Vehicle Assembly Building

The Vehicle Assembly Building supports the processing of rockets, shuttles, and payloads. This facility, one of the largest buildings by volume in the United States, is where the Shuttle is picked up vertically and mated with its external fuel tank and the two solid rocket motors and then placed on the mobile launch pad/crawler. Built in the early 1960s to support the Apollo Space Program, much of the interior infrastructure is original, including the lighting. FPL replaced nearly 60 percent of the existing lighting to better support Shuttle requirements and improve the color rending properties by producing a bright, full-color light. A sophisticated control system providing multiple-lighting scenarios based on the actual facility circumstances was installed. These energy conservation measures alone cut KSC’s peak energy demand by more than 600 kilowatts saving a total of $350,000 per year. Included as part of its demand side management programs, FPL provided NASA a $46,680 rebate for lighting replacements.

Orbiter Processing Facilities

The Orbiter Processing Facilities are the “garages” for the Shuttles when they are not in flight. The Shuttles are overhauled, modified, repaired, and flight prepared in these structures. Access is tightly controlled and HVAC requirements are extremely critical. FPL provided HVAC modifications for the Space Center’s three Orbiter Processing Facilities, improving the efficiency of the water side of the HVAC systems. Two other nearby facilities, a machine shop and communication repeater were modified and connected to the area’s chilled water loop increasing cooling efficiency and avoiding expensive required equipment replacement and repairs.

In all, the KSC project took 12 months to complete and was third-party financed with a term of 10 years. The project reduced the Space Center’s energy use by approximately 28 billion Btu per year helping KSC meet their energy goals. “Along with the reduction in energy, NASA now has an upgraded facility infrastructure and reduced maintenance costs,” said Manuel Cabrera, lead power systems engineer, NASA Ground Systems.

For more information, please contact Wayne Thalasinos of NASA at 321-861-8415, Manny Cabrera of NASA at 321-861-3283, Ed Anderson of FPL at 321-726-4943, or Brad Gustafson of FEMP at 202-586-5865.

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