Manufacturing Support and Facility Operations- Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF)


The Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans is a world-class manufacturing facility providing vital support to NASA exploration and discovery missions. MAF considered “NASA’s Rocket Factory,” is NASA-owned and managed for the agency by the Marshall Space Flight Center and is NASA’s only large-scale rocket production facility. MAF is unique in that it contains one of the nation’s largest production buildings, which was originally used to produce the Saturn V Booster and the External Tank for the Space Shuttle. Now, MAF is being utilized to assemble the Space Launch System’s (SLS) huge inner tank, NASA’s next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle that will return humans to the moon and eventually Mars. Today, MAF supports several major projects for America’s next generation of space transportation vehicles, including numerous aspects of the SLS program and the Orion spacecraft.

The Challenge

NASA needed to design and implement a plan for reducing costs at MAF in support of its primary missions. The Manufacturing Support and Facilities Operations Contract (MSFOC) was created to reduce maintenance and operations costs at the facility in support of NASA programs and to diversify facility use by attracting new government and commercial tenants to further offset operating costs. As a key integrated member of the Jacobs Team, Geocent was instrumental in designing and implementing these cost reduction and facility diversification plans.

The Solution

Geocent led the development and implementation of a diversification strategy for facility use at MAF. This included both formal and informal public outreach, relations, tours and development of PR materials for the facility in addition to active recruitment of new tenants.

Additionally, working closely with Jacobs, Geocent implemented a cost reduction strategy for Operations and Maintenance at MAF in the areas of Mission Assurance, Construction Management, the Test Laboratory, and Industrial Safety Oversight, among others. Namely, Geocent helped plan and execute Lean Six Sigma training and process improvement; designed and managed facility upgrade and maintenance projects (including the all new SLS spray development facility); provided SMEs in testing protocols (including test method development, equipment relocation, and lab consolidation); and recommended process and product safety features (including accident and industrial incident investigations as well as safety regulation compliance).

Geocent led the creation of a diversification strategy for MAF that included close interactions between Jacobs, Geocent, NASA, the State of Louisiana and other key stakeholders that ultimately produced over $10 Million in annual cost offsets for MAF operations to the benefit of NASA.

Key Achievements

  • NASA/MSFC Superior Subcontractor Performance Award
  • MSFC FY2014 Small Business Subcontractor Excellence Award
  • 2014 U.S. Small Business Administration Tibbetts and Hall of Fame Awards

The Outcome

The Geocent-led diversification of facility use at MAF directly led to:

  • An offset of approximately 19% of NASA’s annual operating cost (about $10 million per year), leading to over $50 million of savings for NASA during the life of the contract
  • The creation of hundreds of permanent new jobs and thousands of temporary jobs.

For Operations and Maintenance, Geocent and the Jacobs Team’s solutions resulted in a 50% overall cost reduction from its original cost. More specifically:

  • In the Test Laboratory, Geocent technicians consolidated five labs and developed new testing methods to satisfy three tenant requests. Geocent has helped Jacobs reach significant efficiencies from cross training and consolidation saving them both time and money.
  • In the Project Management and Construction Engineering department, Geocent successfully managed the completion of several facility improvement projects with budgets up to $500k. All of these projects were completed ahead of schedule and within budget.