By: Praveen Kumar
May 19 2023
A part of NASA's Facility in New Orleans was previously rented to a film studio but the contract is now at an end. NASA itself is not a film studio.
An image of what appears to be a NASA facility has gone viral on Facebook and other social media platforms with the caption, "I wonder why does NASA, a space agency, have one of the world's largest film set studios among its facilities." Some social media posts also have an extended caption that reads, "Maybe cause, as their name indicates, Not A Space Agency, they are just a film studio, and all they do are movies?" The text "Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF)" is also part of the image but in a smaller size.
According to our research, the image shows NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans East, Louisiana. The original aerial shot of the facility, in which the NASA logo is clearly visible on one of the buildings, can be traced back to NASA's official website. NASA describes the facility as "America's Rocket Factory," and is "829-total acres, with 43 acres of manufacturing space under one roof – a space large enough to contain more than 31 professional football fields." MAF is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and several parts of the facility are used by commercial firms and NASA contractors.
According to the official MAF website, it is a "multi-tenant facility specializing in large-scale aerospace manufacturing." It also states that the MAF has "the world's largest indoor manufacturing facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, and an extensive selection of shared services." MAF's current tenants, most of who are involved in rocket production, are BK Aerospace, Boeing, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, LM Wind Power, Lockheed Martin, THE National Center of Advanced Manufacturing, Ochsner Health Center - Michoud, Textron Systems, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Vivace Corporation. None of the present tenants are film studios.
According to NASASpaceflight.com, after the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, space in the MAF was rented to a film studio for a time. According to a NASA progress report, in 2011, MAF's Building 420 was leased to Big Easy Studios, a private film production company. "GI Joe II," "Ender's Game," and "Jurassic World" were major commercial films made at Big Easy Studios. However, this contract was a temporary short-term agreement, and they are no longer among the tenants of the facility. Big Easy Studios later filed a case against NASA for refusing to extend the contract at the New Orleans facility, according to legal documents available in the public domain. Big Easy Studios alleged a breach of contract claiming they had "made various improvements to the facility in anticipation of executing a long-term lease agreement". The case documents show that Big Easy Studios first filed a complaint in the United States Court of Federal Claims on 28 June 2017, alleging a "breach of its Contract(s)," proving that its tenancy ended some time prior to that.
In an email response, a spokesperson for the Michoud facility told Logically Facts that the contract with Big Easy Studios ended in 2016. "NASA Michoud rented out an underutilized warehouse to Big Easy Productions from 2011 to 2016. Following their departure, there have not been any film companies located at the facility," they said.
NASA is not a film studio. It is America's civil space program, similar to the United Kingdom's U.K. Space Agency, and India's ISRO. A portion of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans was previously rented to a film studio but claims that the whole facility was a film studio are false.
(Update: This story has been updated to reflect a response from NASA's Michoud facility.)