NASA White Sands Test Facility

Established in 1963 to test propulsion systems for the Apollo spacecraft, the NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) became a center of technical excellence in the fields of high-pressure oxygen systems and rocket propellant safety, which continues today. Considered a national asset, WSTF has supported every U.S. human space flight from Apollo to the Shuttle Program and the International Space Station (ISS). Chosen for its isolated location and topography, WSTF is nestled in the foothills of the San Andres Mountains, just east of Las Cruces, New Mexico with a moderate desert climate ideal for year-round testing.

WSTF has tested over 550 rocket engines in more than 3.5 million firings for NASA, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and private industry. Over 90 percent of all nonmetallic materials flown on Apollo and the space shuttle were tested at WSTF.
With the demonstration of the Apollo launch escape system at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in 1963, Little Joe II provided the capability for our astronauts to safely escape in the event of an anomaly and began a long history of WSTF support to NASA programs and missions. In 1967, as a result of the tragic Apollo 1 fire that took the lives of three astronauts, WSTF stepped up and began developing an expertise to improve oxygen system safety. WSTF continues to be a leader in pressurized oxygen systems today.

As NASA defines future missions, WSTF is poised to support these programs in exploration, technology development, and scientific research. With experienced and talented personnel and unique testing capabilities and resources, WSTF will continue to support ISS human spaceflight activities, and will be involved in the design and development of the new NASA Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which will enable human deep space exploration. WSTF also continues to provide testing and research services for other government agencies and is partnering with commercial space companies to continue successful exploration of space.

Core capabilities

  • Rocket Propulsion Testing and Evaluation
  • Oxygen Systems Testing and Analysis
  • Propellants and Aerospace Fluids Testing and Analysis
  • Hypervelocity Impact Testing
  • Composite Pressure Vessels Testing and Analysis
  • Component Design, Analysis, Testing, and Evaluation for Critical Systems

WSTF training courses:

  • Inspection for Damage to Carbon/Epoxy Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels
  • Hypergol Systems: Design, Buildup, & Operation
  • Oxygen Systems: Operation & Maintenance
  • Fire Hazards in Oxygen Systems
  • NASA Standard Tests (Flammability)
  • Hydrogen Safety
  • Introduction to Precision Cleaning

Click for WSTF contact information.

Click to visit WSTF.