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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid