NASA selects SpaceX to operate historic launch pad

Dec. 14, 2013 at 8:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk of PayPal, has been awarded control of Launch Pad 39A, where many historic U.S. space missions began.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced its decision Friday, NBC reported. The agency rejected Blue Origin, the space company founded by another high-tech billionaire, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida was used for the Apollo 11 mission, which landed the first men on the moon in 1969, and for the 1981 inaugural mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Columbia, the first space shuttle, disintegrated while returning to Earth in 2003, killing everyone on board.

NASA continues to control Launch Pad 39B.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, investing money he made selling PayPal. He also heads Tesla Motors, which produces an electric car, and Solar City, the largest U.S. residential solar power company.

SpaceX plans to use the launch pad for its Falcon 9 rocket. NASA in a statement said the handover is part of a process to convert Cape Canaveral to a facility handling both commercial and government space flight.

On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office rejected a Blue Origin challenge of NASA's selection process.

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