The monthly lunches bring in speakers to address subjects of interest to MSET members, and the talk by Magee was the first time the master plan was discussed at a public event. Charles Beasley, president and CEO of MSET, said the topic was of interest because the master plan is a roadmap and vision for the future.
MSET, which serves as an incubator and technology transfer office, is also interested in economic development issues. It aims to leverage the assets of SSC to provide more economic opportunities for the region, Beasley said.
In talking about the future of Stennis Space Center, Magee noted that the federal facility's proximity to Interstates 10, 12 and 59 makes it very attractive to aerospace companies looking to locate in the region. "It's a good place to be," he said.
But few discussions about SSC can occur without an explanation of the importance of the 125,000 acre buffer zone that surrounds the 14,000-acre complex. Magee addressed that right at the start of his talk. He said the buffer protects the outside community from the noise associated with rocket testing, and NASA is very protective of the zone.
Stennis Space Center is divided into multiple areas designed for specific activities, like the rocket engine test area. Most of the land at SSC is rocket-testing related, and some areas won't be developed because they are in the path of exhausts from the rocket testing.
Other portions of SSC are the "administrative" area, a mixture of office, labs and public spaces; "public outreach," which is actually located outside the gate at the Infinity Science Center, which is still being built; marine operations; data operations; and the "lab" area, where calibration work and science labs are located that do gas and environmental analysis.
"We also have some small outfits in there that are doing rocketry work because the space is available," said Magee.
Today there is also a "maintenance and logistics" area, with warehouses, shops, and operations that put things together, like the instrumentation work done by the U.S. Geological Survey. And there's also an "assembly" area, where the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant is located.
The plant, with over 400,000 square feet of available space, will be turned over to NASA July 1.
"This is where assembly operations go on. The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne assembly operations are located here," Magee said. Passports and other critical documents are also made in this area by the Government Printing Office, which is in "a growth mode."
"What will change is that what we were calling assembly operations is now turning into more an industrial services area," said Magee. In addition, some of the shops and warehousing that had been in the maintenance area will move to the new industrial services area over time.
"So this will be a combination of industrial type services, rocket engine assembly, passport assembly, as well as other industrial and supporting processes for our rocket engine program," he said. It will happen over the next 20 years.
At least two areas, marine operations and data operations, are expected to grow.
"The marine operations will actually take over a much larger portion of Stennis Space Center," said Magee. That's because of the expected increase in Navy activities there that rely on the water access.
The marine operations area is home of the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School and the Navy's Special Boat Team 22, part of the Navy's Special Warfare Command - the naval component of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
This secluded part of Stennis and the surrounding buffer zone is where Navy SEALs train with SBT 22, a highly specialized unit composed of Special Warfare Combatant Craft crew members. They use armed, special warfare boats for insertion and extraction of SEAL teams.
The marine operations area is also where NOAA works on data buoys.
Also expected to grow is the area designated for data operations. It's the location of the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, and the immediate area could grow as other data centers consider locating there, said Magee.
Over the next 20 years there will be a lot of work to refurbish or renovate buildings. He said 50 years is the "magic number" for most general office buildings before they need to be rehabilitated, repaired or replaced.
"We're at that age," Magee said, noting that a lot of buildings date to the Apollo program.
He said it could mean seeing buildings gutted to the studs and brought back with new features, or entirely new buildings. That's a big change, and it will happen if all the funding profiles work out, he said. One possibility is multi-use, reconfigurable buildings to meet changing needs.
The A-3 test stand is a good example, he said, of construction that is reconfigurable depending on the rocket of the future sent Stennis' way.
Magee noted that the University of Southern Mississippi has a "major" presence with three buildings at Stennis Space Center. Mississippi State University and its research component is adding another 50,000 square-foot building to increase its presence, with plans for another one in the works.
"Universities are going to be a major component," said Magee. "We need the university research. We need those bright minds that can help us infuse new technology and help us meet future demand. We actually have companies that are looking at locating here ... and one of the factors is that they can have university-based research done to help them improve their product over the long term.
"This is a very great selling point for us, and it also is a great resource for people who work out here so they can get some advanced education and be able to better themselves," he said.
Magee also touched on the acreage that's been designed a "Project Ready" technology park.
"Technology parks don't look like industrial parks," said Magee. He said the plan is to still keep 30 to 40 percent of the Center's acreage green, with pockets of development. He said that while SSC identified 3,900 acres as ready for development, that's not all that's available.
"It doesn't mean that we still won't develop in another area, but why would we do that if we have plenty of area already available along those roadways?" he said. "Our first mission is to do what I call infill, we'll in-fill as much as we can, and then if a project warrants we'll go out into a new untouched area that's OK to develop."