NEWORLEANS-- NASA is building two space vehicles at the Michoud Assembly Facility -- the Orion capsule to fly to the Moon, Mars and Asteroids, and the huge Space Launch System rocket to launch it.
But there is another.
'Everybody knows about SLS, everybody knows about Orion,' said Michoud Director Roy Malone. 'But we also have Dream Chaser commercial crew work going on here.'
Dream Chaser looks like the Shuttle, and is designed to fly astronauts to the Space Station. But it is not a NASA project.
'The vehicle from Sierra Nevada is the Dream Chaser spacecraft,' Malone. 'They subcontract with Lockheed Martin Commercial to build most of the parts of the structure here.'
NASA needs about 45 percent of the huge Michoud facility to build the space vehicles. So for three years, they have been renting unused space.
'We probably talk to over 100 different potential business partners a year,' said Malone.
Companies large and small have rented space at Michoud, including movie producers.
'It's a very convenient marriage,' Malone said. 'We've got extra space and they need it, and it works out well for them because it is a secure facility.'
Michoud sometimes gets credit on screen for allowing movie magic to be created here.
'It was amazing,' Malone recalled. 'We walked inside one of these old NASA hangars, and walked inside this building, it was like being inside somebody's house. It was amazing.'
It had so much interest they're beginning to see the point where the entire facility will be rented. But that is not the end of the story.
'By 2015 if some of these happen, we'll be pretty close to capacity,' said Malone. 'Now there's still lots of green space, so we're available for commercial companies if they want to come and build on our property.'
Right now NASA has about 980,000 square feet of space for rent at the Michoud Assembly Facility.