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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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  • Re:Watch out (Score:4, Informative)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:23AM (#45692875) Homepage

    SpaceX launched a spacecraft to an altitude (or distance) of 80,000 kilometres. The moon is 384,400 kilometres away. That's less than 5x the distance.

    It's also unreasonable to expect SpaceX to be able to reach the moon right out of the gate. Their first Falcon 9 rocket was only launched in 2010, and was developed for a fraction of the cost of the Apollo program (the engine R&D on Apollo was over five billion in modern dollars). They'll get there; the Falcon Heavy should be able to do a manned lunar mission in two launches, as it has a lift capacity somewhere between one third and one half of the Saturn V.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:33AM (#45692903) Homepage

    You mean, like how Blue Origin tried to hobble SpaceX by securing a launchpad they had no use for?

    SpaceX has 39 launches on their manifest, and has completed 9 successful orbital launches. They will probably get a whole bunch more once they complete the Falcon Heavy demo flight.

    Blue Origin has zero launches on their manifest, zero successful orbital launches, and no firm timeline for when they might complete their first orbital rocket except that it appears to be in early development.

    In short, Blue Origin had no conceivable use for the pad, except for a possible use in the long-term. I think what was actually going on there is that the United Launch Alliance, which had a near-monopoly on US launches until recently, was using Blue Origin as a proxy (co-sponsoring the bid) to try to hurt SpaceX, who is offering strong competition and forcing them to lower their prices.

  • Re:Watch out (Score:5, Informative)

    by ustolemyname (1301665) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @03:13AM (#45693443)

    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_launches [wikipedia.org], someone has already contracted with them to deliver a payload to the moon (fifth from the bottom of the list).

  • 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?

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