White Sands Test Facility: HABS/HAER Documentation

In 2020, on behalf of Outside The Box LLC, I was contracted by NASA to provide the HABS/HAER photography and research of a portion of the White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, NM. The object was to document Test Stand 302, a component of the 300 Area, that was built for the Apollo lunar program in 1964-1965. Test Stand 302 served as an altitude test chamber, which allowed NASA to test the propulsion systems of the command and service module and the lunar excursion module at different altitudes above the Earth.

This was a challenging project for a number of reasons. First, I was awarded the contract shortly before COVID hit, so scheduling a trip out to New Mexico was a problem. Fortunately, there was a brief window in late September 2020 when everything aligned and I could take a week in Las Cruces for the photography. The photography was difficult given the intensity of the sunlight, which, with the open nature of the metal framing on Test Stand, created very dark shadows. I spent quite a lot of time on metering before taking each photograph, to make sure that I could get detail all across the negative. Finally, much of the research materials that I needed for the historical narrative was not at the White Sands facility, so that I had to rely on NASA staff to find materials for me.

Fortunately, NASA staff and contractors all across the board were extraordinarily helpful and supportive, and provided me with the information that I needed. This was one of my most enjoyable documentation projects ever, and I was very pleased with the resulting photographs and narrative, which the National Park Service approved for delivery to the HABS/HAER collection at the Library of Congress.