News / Science & Technology

NASA Adds More Space Launch Platforms For Sale

FILE - Space Shuttle Discovery, resting on the Mobile Launcher Platform, turns the corner on the crawlerway as it rolls back from Launch Pad 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building, March 26, 2005. (Image Credit: NASA/KSC)
FILE - Space Shuttle Discovery, resting on the Mobile Launcher Platform, turns the corner on the crawlerway as it rolls back from Launch Pad 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building, March 26, 2005. (Image Credit: NASA/KSC)
Reuters
While NASA considers competing bids to take over a shuttle launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, it added three mobile launch platforms to its list of excess equipment available to private industry, officials said on Tuesday.
 
Ideally, NASA wants a commercial launch company to take over one or more of the massive steel platforms, which were originally built in 1967 to support the Apollo moon program's Saturn rockets. The 25-foot (7.6-meter) tall platforms were later modified for the space shuttles, which flew from 1981 until 2011.
 
Recycling the platforms, which measure 160 feet by 135 feet (49 by 41 meters) is another option, a solicitation on NASA's procurement website shows.
 
The U.S. space agency also is interested in other uses for the mobile launch platforms, which served as bases to stack and assemble the shuttle and then transport it to the launch pad. The platforms provided power and umbilical connections and had open sections for flames and rocket exhaust to pass through.
 
“At this point, NASA is looking to gage interest for potential use of the [platforms] and concepts for potential use,” spokeswoman Tracy Young said.
 
Proposals are due Sept. 6.
 
NASA is already assessing bids for the shuttle launch pad from two competing firms backed by Internet billionaires.
 
NASA is also turning over the shuttle's runway to Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency. Space Florida, in turn, plans to make the runway and support facilities available to a variety of commercial companies, including privately owned XCOR Aerospace, which is developing a two-person, suborbital spaceship called Lynx that takes off and lands like an airplane.
 
Another potential customer is Stratolaunch Systems, an orbital space vehicle backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
 
The most contentious - and highest profile - piece of shuttle equipment available is a Kennedy Space Center launch pad that has attracted competing bids from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal and chief executive of electric car company Tesla Motors.
 
Bezos and Musk, both billionaires, are vying for Launch Complex 39A. NASA intends to keep the second shuttle launch pad, 39B, for a new heavy-lift rocket under development called the Space Launch System.
 
Musk's Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, California, wants 39A to launch its Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rockets. The privately-owned firm, also known as SpaceX, already flies from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located just south of the Kennedy Space Center.
 
The first Falcon 9 rocket flight from a new launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is scheduled for next month. The company has a backlog of more than 50 launches, including 10 missions to fly cargo for NASA to the International Space Station.
 
SpaceX also is developing a version of its Dragon cargo ship to fly astronauts.
 
Startup Blue Origin, a Kent, Washington, firm owned by Bezos, submitted an alternative proposal to NASA to run pad 39A as a multi-user facility.
 
Both firms say they are ready to take over maintenance and operations of the launch pad on Oct. 1.
 
United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, did not bid on the shuttle's launch pad, but has publicly endorsed Blue Origin's proposals. The company, which has a lucrative monopoly on launching U.S. military satellites, is facing its first competition for the business from rival launch pad bidder SpaceX.
 
The main NASA facilities that will remain are the shuttle launch pad 39B, plus various hangars for the Orion deep space capsule to be launched by NASA's heavy lift rocket, due to begin test flights in 2017.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs