NASA to open launch pad for commercial use

May 20, 2013 at 8:58 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) -- Commercial space activities may soon utilize a NASA launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that was designed for the Apollo space program.

The agency said it plans to announce proposals for commercial use of Launch Pad 39A, which when implemented would "encourage commercial space activities along Florida's Space Coast and fully use the historic launch complex."

"We remain committed to right-sizing our portfolio by reducing the number of facilities that are underused, duplicative, or not required to support the Space Launch System and Orion," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana.

"Launch Complex 39A is not required to support our asteroid retrieval mission or our eventual missions to Mars. But it's in the agency's and our nation's best interest in meeting our commitment and direction to enable commercial space operations and allow the aerospace industry to operate and maintain the pad and related facilities."

Launch Pad 39A was designed to support NASA's Apollo Program and was modified to launch space shuttles. Launch Pad 39B, located nearby, is being modernized to support government and commercial launches, including NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

NASA said assessments indicate Launch Pad 39A could serve as a platform for a commercial space company's launch activities if the company assumes financial and technical responsibility of the complex's operations and management.

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