For Sale or Rent: Used Launchpad, Well-Loved

Athough NASA hasn’t put out an official “for sale” list, news reports indicate that several facilities at Kennedy Space Center are available to the highest bidder, including one of the launch pad where the Apollo missions and many space shuttles started their journeys, as well as space in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.

After 2013, federal money will no longer be available to maintain facilities at KSC that are left over from the space shuttle era and are no longer being used. Currently, nothing is up for public auction, but NASA has been in discussion commercial space companies and other interested parties who could buy or rent.

The Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC. Credit: Nancy Atkinson

“We have a lot of things in discussion, realizing that these major facilities have been funded by the space-shuttle program,” said Joyce Riquelme, NASA’s director of KSC planning and development, speaking with WESH TV in Florida. “And the facilities out here can’t be in an abandoned state for long before they become unusable. So we’re in a big push over the next few months to either have agreements for these facilities or not.”

Among the facilities up for bid are Launch Pad 39A; space in the gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building, which was first used to assemble Saturn V-Apollo rockets; the Orbiter Processing Facilities, which are huge garages where the shuttles were maintained; Hangar N and its high-tech test equipment; the launch-control center; and various other buildings and pieces of undeveloped property.

Launch Pad 39B is being retooled for NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS).

Reportedly, NASCAR is renting the 3-mile-long space shuttle runway for race car tests.

Launcpad 39A in March, 2010, with Discovery on deck for the STS-131 mission. Credit: Nancy Atkinson

NASA already has partnered with Space Florida and Boeing, which is leasing one of the shuttle hangers. Boeing, under a Space Florida contract, intends to assemble and refurbish its planned CST-100 capsules that might be used to take up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing also has a partnership with Bigelow Aerospace, which is seeking to build and launch its own space stations.

While this means NASA is moving forward with the next generation of vehicles and missions, it has to be hard for the people who worked on the space shuttle program to see this happening.

Sources: WESH, Orlando Sentinel

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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