The John F. Kennedy Space Center stretches over 139,490 acres of land and coexists with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This environmentally unique Federal property includes: 41,000 acres of Canaveral National Seashore managed by the National Park Service; 1,800 acres of active producing orange groves; and 70,000 acres of estuary designated as a system of national importance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including 35,000 acres of protected wetlands and 35,000 acres of uplands. There are 42 miles of sea coast, 19.3 miles of navigable waterways, 213 miles of roadway, and 40 miles of railroads. Proactive stewardship of this refuge is an essential aspect of the KSC mission.

In harmony with this unique environment, KSC performs the following roles and missions:

Primary-Assigned Missions

Launch Processing

Lead Center for Payload Processing

Agency-Assigned Center of Excellence

Launch and Payload Processing Systems

Programmatic Assignments

Space Shuttle Operations

Safety Performance Upgrades

Integrated Logistics

MIR Support

International Space Station

ISS Operations Utilization Capability Development

Payload Processing and Support

Spacelab Operations

Mission Management and Integration

Life Science - Science Research and Technology (SR&T)

Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA)

Expendable Launch Vehicle Programs

Advanced Programs and Small Business Innovative Research

Advanced Space Transportation

Commercial Technology Program

Horizontal line

Agency Support Activities

Lead Center for Occupational Health

NASA Range Safety Interface

Lead Center for Metrology and Calibration

Lead Center for Fluids Management

Expert Center for Workstation Management

Expert Center for Imaging and Optical Character Recognition

Expert Center for Intra-Center Networking

Lead Center for Relocation Services

Lead Center for Drug Free Work Place

Lead Center for NASA Federal Law Enforcement Training Program (Federal Arrest Authority)

Lead Center for Communications Security (COMSEC) Central Office of Record

Lead Center for Security Electronic Key Management System

Focal Point for Agency Benchmarking Initiatives

Cross-Cutting Functions

Education Programs

Equal Opportunity Program

Financial Management




Public Affairs

Administration and Human Resources

Applied Technology Development and Technology Commercialization

Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA)

Biomedical Programs


KSC Laboratories and Testbeds

Process Analysis and Improvement

Information Technology Management

ISO Project Management

Horizontal line



The purpose of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Implementation Plan is to document how we will carry out the NASA and Enterprise Strategic Plans through implementation planning, execution, and performance evaluation of our assigned tasks. This Plan will convey how KSC couples the deployment of cross-cutting functions with primary functions in order to effectively execute our approved missions and assigned activities. This Plan will be carried out through the dedication of the people at KSC. The Plan is a living document and will be updated appropriately to reflect current and future NASA and Enterprise strategic direction as well as KSC implementation of these strategies.


Launch Processing

KSC is the leader in the Agency for launch vehicle processing, and for launch and landing management. KSC's Shuttle Processing responsibilities include: certification of flight readiness for each mission, direction of NASA managed contracted support, development and certification of ground systems/facilities, and assessment/acceptance of contractor processing work. KSC is actively involved in efforts to keep the Shuttle fleet safe, maintainable, and affordable until 2030. These responsibilities include supporting Shuttle upgrades, Checkout Launch and Control System (CLCS), and other program improvements. KSC provides expendable launch vehicle processing insight, and launch countdown management for all classes of expendable launch vehicles. Process improvements are identified and implemented through process analysis, application of new technologies, and technology transfer.

Lead Center for Payload Processing

KSC has been delegated full program management responsibility and authority to lead Agency efforts in Payload Carriers utilization and payload processing for space launch. In particular, this Center is charged with leading the Agency in a coordinated effort including NASA Field Centers, industry, academia, and other Government agencies to develop new and innovative payload processing tools and techniques, and streamline payload processing for the Agency, while maintaining the world-class status of our unique payload processing capabilities, including experienced personnel and facilities.


Center of Excellence for Launch and Payload Processing Systems

Since NASA was chartered, KSC has been the preeminent organization world-wide for launch and payload processing systems. The capabilities of the KSC team for processing and launching space flight vehicles remain unsurpassed. For this reason, KSC is NASA's Center of Excellence for Launch and Payload Processing Systems. KSC is continually advancing the state of the art in launch and payload processing hardware, software, and support activities.

Launch and payload processing systems have become increasingly complicated throughout KSC's history. In addition to achieving and maintaining astounding levels of technical excellence, the launch and payload processing systems must also deliver on schedule and at reduced cost. KSC has led the way within NASA for its achievements using continual improvement and reengineering methods. All aspects of launch and payload processing have dramatically and measurably improved.

The industry is demanding faster, better, and cheaper access to space. KSC is meeting that demand with expertise derived from programs with long term operational phases. The Space Shuttle is NASA's first major program to have a long-term operational phase. All major current and potential future human space flight programs (International Space Station, X- vehicles, a lunar base, and human space flights to Mars) also are projected to have lengthy operational phases. Therefore, operations engineering technologies and capabilities are becoming even more strategically important NASA-wide. KSC's launch and payload processing expertise will be leveraged into new programs so the safest and best possible operational programs are delivered to the American taxpayers.


KSC is America's gateway to the universe. As depicted on the cover of this Plan, KSC is an integral hub of all NASA's space enterprises. For NASA's major space programs, the road to space travels through KSC. The following list provides a brief summary of our multiple and diverse program assignments:

Space Shuttle Operations - KSC is responsible for the processing, launch, landing, and recovery of the Space Shuttle. This includes providing the critical skills, facilities, equipment, and support functions.

Safety Performance Upgrades - KSC is a lead for key areas of safety and performance upgrades for the Space Shuttle and payload ground operations. This includes working with design representatives from requirements definition through implementation for improving ground and flight systems.

Integrated Logistics - KSC is the Technical Manager Representative for Shuttle Integrated Logistics. In this capacity, KSC ensures cost-effective long-term supportability for the Space Shuttle Program and is a key team member for Shuttle Program upgrades. For the International Space Station and Payload Programs, KSC is responsible for the logistics support of NASA launch site facilities, systems, and equipment, as well as other logistics tasks as delegated.

MIR Support - KSC provides ground systems verification support, orbiter, and launch site payload processing services for the MIR program, plans and schedules; and implements payload-to-orbiter processing, testing, and launch vehicle integration.

International Space Station - KSC serves as the International Space Station (ISS) Program's primary agent for the management and integration of the overall ground process for all U. S. launched ISS elements, from manufacture and assembly through verification and launch, and provides technical support to on-orbit operations. In addition, during the assembly and operations phases, KSC performs the processing of the recurring utilization and return/resupply missions to the Space Station.

ISS Operations Utilization Capability Development - KSC is responsible for the design, procurement, and activation/validation of assigned ground support equipment, facility/facility systems, and checkout systems that support assembly flights and return/resupply missions for the ISS. Horizontal line

Payload Processing and Support - KSC is the Program Manager for the Payload Carriers Program. This effort includes managing the Spacelab Program, Get-Away Special Program, Hitchhiker Program, and the Flight Support System O&M Program. KSC provides payload carriers, facilities, and services for payload customers to perform their launch site processing. This includes planning, scheduling, and implementing payload-to-orbiter processing, testing, and launch vehicle integration.

Spacelab Operations - KSC is the Program Manager for the Spacelab Program. In addition, KSC provides for the assembly, test and checkout, and launch vehicle integration for all Spacelab missions.

Mission Management and Integration - KSC provides for the integration of experiments onto carriers and into the Space Shuttle orbiter. This effort also includes long-range planning and programmatic coordination between KSC and the Mission Managers/Design Centers.

Life Science - Science Research and Technology (SR&T) - KSC provides for the mission management of Life Science experiments flown on the Space Shuttle and provides the facilities and services to accommodate the launch site processing of the experiments. This includes managing the bioregenerative research and technology development efforts for Johnson Space Center (JSC), and conducting integrated testing of candidate biological life support components.

Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA) - KSC provides S&MA programmatic oversight/insight for launch and landing processing, Orbiter Modification Down Periods (OMDPs), NASA Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs) missions, and at supplier sites. KSC also provides the program manager leadership for the nonconformance, problem reporting, and corrective action system. This serves as the focal point for the future expansion and integration of problem reporting databases to aid in risk assessment and prioritization of resources.

Expendable Launch Vehicles Programs - KSC manages all NASA ELV missions at both KSC and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). The KSC roles and responsibilities include launch countdown management for all NASA ELV missions, launch site management, and spacecraft processing. In addition, after FY 1999, KSC will manage Intermediate ELV and Geosynchronous Orbital Earth Satellite (GOES) launch service contracts, and the eventual consolidation of acquisition and management of all operational launch services consistent with KSC's launch mission.

Advanced Programs and Small Business Innovative Research - KSC manages and administers program funds which demonstrate proof of concept for new and applied aerospace technologies necessary to process and launch current and future vehicles.

Advanced Space Transportation - KSC develops and demonstrates proof of concept for new and applied aerospace technologies necessary to process and launch future vehicles.

Commercial Technology Program - KSC has established several aggressive commercialization programs that successfully transfer NASA technologies to private industry. Included are Technology Transfer, NASA/Florida Business Incubator, University research, and Dual Use.

Horizontal line


Agencywide support activities assigned to KSC reduce duplication of effort, enhance performance and reduce overall operational costs. These Agency support roles are described in more detail in Section V of this document.


KSC employs cross-cutting functions to enable effective implementation of NASA's objectives. These essential activities are described in Section VI.


The employee's performance plan will have a direct relationship to the plans outlined in the KSC Implementation Plan. Through this link, each performance plan will be supportive of NASA Strategic Planning. It is important for every employee to understand how his/her efforts support the roles and mission of NASA. This relationship is described in the following figure.

KSC Implementation Plan Home Page

Author: Saul Barton
Curator: Carol Valdes (
Updated: June 10, 1997

A service of the Kennedy Space Center, Roy D. Bridges, Center Director