SpaceX Takes Over Historic Pad 39A
After GAO denied competitor’s protest, launch company owned by Elon Musk gets a crack at running the historic pad where Apollo and Shuttles flew.
In a press release dated Dec 13, NASA announced selecting SpaceX for “negotiations on a lease to use and operate the historic Launch Complex (LC) 39A at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.” According to the press release, NASA made the selection decision after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest filed against the Agency by Blue Origin LLC on Sept. 13. In its protest, Blue Origin raised concerns about the competitive process NASA was using to lease LC 39A. Blue Origin had argued the language in the Announcement for Proposals (AFP) favored one proposed use of LC-39A over others. According to the press release, the GAO disagreed.
The importance of the move was highlighted in the Los Angeles Times (12/13, Hennigan), noting that while SpaceX has already successfully completed three flights to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a $1.6B contract, the next phase is to carry astronauts. “Last year, SpaceX won $440 million from NASA to make its spacecraft astronaut-ready….SpaceX's capsule is designed to carry seven astronauts. The company is aiming for a manned test flight by 2015.”
Blue Origin is owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. According to the LA Times “In a statement, SpaceX said it “will gladly accommodate other commercial providers interested in using launch complex 39Afor NASA human-rated orbital spaceflight.”
Published Date : 1/6/2014