NASA Picks SpaceX to Lease Old Shuttle Launch Pad


NASA plans to lease one of its mothballed shuttle launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Space Exploration Technologies, the U.S. space agency announced on Friday.

The selection of SpaceX followed a challenge over the NASA solicitation by rival Blue Origin, a startup rocket company owned by founder Jeff Bezos, which submitted a proposal for a multi-user facility.

The General Accountability Office, which arbitrates federal contract disputes, ruled on Thursday that Blue Origin’s protest was not valid.

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SpaceX intends to use the launch pad for its Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rockets.

It already flies from a leased launch pad just south of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It also has a California launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base located on the Pacific coast, and is looking for a fourth commercial site, most likely in Texas.

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“SpaceX is pleased to have been selected by NASA to enter into final negotiations for the use and operation of the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center,” SpaceX said in a statement.

“SpaceX will gladly accommodate other commercial providers interested in using launch complex 39A for NASA human-rated orbital spaceflight,” the company added.

Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

“NASA will begin working with SpaceX to negotiate the terms of its lease. During those ongoing negotiations, NASA will not be able to discuss details of the pending lease agreement,” the agency said in a statement.

Image: An aerial view of part of the Kennedy Space Center’s giant complex featuring the Space Shuttle Endeavour and its support stack of hardware on launch pad 39A, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and surrounding area. Credit: NASA

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