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NASA Businesses Space

SpaceX Wins Use of NASA's Launch Pad 39A 99

Posted by timothy
from the just-has-a-nice-vibe dept.
SpaceX and NASA have reached an agreement (though negotiations on the details are ongoing) for the private space company to lease NASA's launch pad 39A. SpaceX rival Blue Origin had also sought the launch pad for its own use. From the article: "During the selection process, Blue Origin had filed a petition to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The spaceflight company was claiming that NASA was favoring single-use of the launch pad which was designed as a multi-user facility. ... The GAO decided on Thursday that the petition has no basis, which prompted NASA to proceed with its decision process. The next day, the space agency informed both companies that it is granting the exclusive lease to SpaceX."
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SpaceX Wins Use of NASA's Launch Pad 39A

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  • I've never heard of "Blue Origin" before. As such, I'm guessing they haven't successfully launched shit.

    Space-X can actually use the pad now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Blue Origin is busy building the Amazon delivery drones...

    • by Teancum (67324)

      The funny thing about Blue Origin is that the company is technically two years older than SpaceX in terms of when their corporate charters were established. I think that speaks volumes about which company is more prepared for actually going into space. Jeff Bezos also has more money than Elon Musk, so it wasn't a cash flow problem either.

  • Pad 39A is overkill for Space-X's Falcon 9. That's built and transported horizontally, then lifted to a vertical position for launch. The Falcon Heavy may need a more elaborate assembly process. Do they need the whole VAB/crawler-transporter rig? That seems the only justification for wanting all the Pad 39A infrastructure.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Pad 39A is overkill for Space-X's Falcon 9. That's built and transported horizontally, then lifted to a vertical position for launch. The Falcon Heavy may need a more elaborate assembly process. Do they need the whole VAB/crawler-transporter rig? That seems the only justification for wanting all the Pad 39A infrastructure.

      Probably in the same manner, but I ask you this, in the event of an abort that may cause a weather delay (such as we have to launch in this window or we will have to bring it back in during this hurricane), would YOU want to be tilting over a rocket partially filled with rocket fuel (or even just the remaining vapors after the tank is drained) or would you rather secure it to a rig that can transport it back into shelter without having to risk tipping it horizontally?

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @01:58AM (#45693175) Homepage

      But nothing is cooler than slowly moving your spacecraft on a ginormous machine on a beautiful Florida morning. Imagine 'ol Elon sitting up front there just looking out, enjoying the view on his crawler - transporter.

      Eat hot peroxide, Bezos!

      • Oh, for mod points!

      • The crawler is being refurbished for SLS, which does require it (NASA haven't made the the same mistakes as they did with the shuttle.) SpaceX will likely build a rail system to deliver FH to 39A.

        • Didn't realize that. Well, that takes most of the fun out of it.

          The crawler - transporter is so incredibly cool. Something that big actually moving.

          • by AJWM (19027)

            The crawler - transporter is so incredibly cool. Something that big actually moving.

            I see your point, but back in the day it was transporting something larger that would be moving orders of magnitude faster, straight up, seconds after lighting the engines.

            (As an aside, there were originally plans for a Pad 39C, and the VAB was scaled to allow simultaneous stacking of up to four Saturn Vs. Sigh, the space program we almost had...)

            • by afidel (530433)

              Actually the crawler was bigger than either the Saturn V or the shuttle (6m lbs vs 5m gross for the Saturn V or 4.4m gross for the shuttle) =)

    • The point of 39A as a SpaceX facility, at least the speculation I've seen (SpaceX hasn't said anything official about it), is the facilities which are in place for crewed launches. As far as I've heard and seen in other articles about the topic, they are not purchasing a berth in the VAB (vehicle Assembly Building), thus there will be no need for the crawler/tractor that you are talking about.

      It should also be pointed out that the launch pad was going to be abandoned anyway, and before SpaceX put in a bid for the pad the previous plan for the site was simply to let it "rust in place" and sit without any maintenance at all. Neither Blue Origin nor ULA had any interest in the site until SpaceX spoke up asking about it. Do you think a rusting piece of metal on the tour circuit of KSC is a good use of this site instead of seeing people fly into space on new rockets?

      • by Animats (122034)

        Here's their plan [spaceflightnow.com], from 2012. Space-X wants to assemble the Falcon Heavy horizontally, so they'll have to build a big mechanism to lift it up to vertical. For the Falcon 9, they use this [wired4space.com]. It runs on multiple railroad tracks from the assembly shed to the pad. They'll need something more than three times as big for the Falcon Heavy, a bigger shed, a way to lug the thing up the hill to the pad, etc. All doable, but they're already setting that up at Vandenberg, where the weather is better (no hurricanes).

  • I didn't even know that NASA held a raffle.
    I was going to use it for barbecue parties. You guys were all invited.

    • by neiras (723124)

      I didn't even know that NASA held a raffle.
      I was going to use it for barbecue parties. You guys were all invited.

      Grilling steak on the igniter towers? Jumping into the noise suppression pit to cool off?

      Awesome.

  • I was the Miami support team leader for Gerard O'Neil's Space Studies Institute from 1981 to 1983, and I wrote this [archive.org] while manager of interactive architectures at the first electronic newspaper in the US which deployed in Miami.

    It actually points to something rather important that's not being mentioned in all this talk about SpaceX vs Blue Origin in the context of competition for government support.

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

      hint? If you can summarize the paper here it would be very helpful so I wouldn't have to read it.

      • by Baldrson (78598) *
        Quoting:

        Mass-media influences cultural evolution in profound ways....Since institutional evolution is reflected in who has authority over what, editorial authority eventually reflects the biases of this group. They cannot understand life, except as something that generates politics and "human interest" stories. They may even, at some level of awareness, work to maintain our limits to growth since it places their skills at a premium. In a people-saturated environment (one at its limits to growth) people-

        • by AJWM (19027)

          For the benefit of the reading-ability-impaired AC's posting above, let me extract the relevant phrases:

          Mass-media influences cultural evolution [...] They cannot understand life, except as something that generates politics and "human interest" stories. [...] They [...] work to maintain our limits to growth since it places their skills at a premium.

          Which is an interesting, and quite possibly valid, point.

          I just don't see what it has to do with SpaceX or anyone else using Pad 39A.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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