Environmental Protection:

Rocket Tests in Mississippi to Be Heavily Restricted

NSIAD-92-86: Published: Feb 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified environmental issues related to: (1) Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM) tests at the Stennis Space Center; and (2) shuttle launches at and near the Kennedy Space Center.

GAO found that: (1) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) used computer modelling to predict that ground-level exhaust pollutants from ASRM tests would be within acceptable air quality limits and would have insignificant environmental impacts; (2) federal and state regulators have concluded that the NASA computer modelling provided reasonable assurances that exhaust pollutant concentrations would be insignificant; (3) to verify that its computer modelling would accurately predict exhaust products, chemical composition, and particle sizes, NASA added upper-level air sampling to its ground level-sampling of current solid rocket motor tests; (4) NASA redesigned its ASRM test facilities to prevent a loss of existing wetlands; (5) NASA concluded that shuttle launches of up to ten per year would cause insignificant environmental damage at or near the Kennedy Space Center; (6) NASA has been improving its overall environmental management program; and (7) five NASA facilities may contain hazardous waste sites that NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency officials believe could be designated as Superfund sites.

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