Spaceheads

A Launchpad Gets A New Owner

Columbia.sts-1.01

Above, Columbia sits atop Launch Pad 39A in preparation for STS-1, the first space shuttle mission. This wasn’t the first time LC-39A would see the flames of rocket motors. It has been around since the Apollo days. In fact, the first unmanned, manned, and Saturn V launches of the Apollo program left earth from LC-39A.

Today, according to Click Orlando, LC-39A has a new owner. Well, technically NASA still owns LC-39A, but SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease with the government for the rights to LC-39A. SpaceX plans to launch it’s first Falcon Heavy rocket from the historic launch pad next year. If they are granted a NASA contract to provide manned flights to the ISS they plan on launching those flights, with their Dragon crew module riding atop their Falcon rocket. This would mark another first for the pad — the first time a private company has launched a manned mission to ISS.

It’s a changing world we live in. A world where private enterprise is rising up to a challenge and showing that man does still yearn for the boundlessness of space.

  • Step 1. Build groundbreaking Rocket/Orbiter system
    Step 2. Rent dodgy old surplus launch pad from U.S. Government
    Step 3. Profit!

  • The Professor

    This is good news. SpaceX really seems to have their excrement gathered with their space program, and are doing better with each launch. I hope they get to the point to where they can start lifting people into orbit and beyond.

  • CopterBob

    Hopefully we can get back to manned flight capability before Russia decides to stop flying us and changes the door locks on the ISS.

  • That photo of STS-1 was taken 33 years ago. For perspective, 33 years before that was 1948.

    This is not to minimize NASA's accomplishments in other areas over the course of the last third of a century, but it would be nice if SpaceX can improve the pace of progress for manned flight.

    • The Professor

      Yes, yes, and 33 years before that was 1915, which was a pretty lousy year as I recall, and Canaveral was still a swamp full of alligators and lost Spaniards. How's that for perspective?

      It would be nice if SpaceX could get their own manned spaceflight program rolling, or even kick NASA in the butt to get them moving again. Something…

      • That's a fair bit of perspective, but more to the point NACA itself was established in 1915. Thirty-three years later we had the X series of manned supersonic rocket craft. Thirty-three years after that we had STS-1. Now, thirty-three years forward again, we've got… some museum exhibits, some things on the drawing board, and no ability to launch astronauts at all unless we ask nicely for permission to rent a seat in a Soyuz capsule in order to get to a space station just a couple of hundred miles up that we can no longer reach on our own.

        Not that I'm bitter.

        • The Professor

          Good lord, I had forgotten about NACA, the agency that worked tirelessly to develop efficient air inlets for our motorcars and other air-breathing devices, and that are still used today. They also, hmm, mucked around with aeroplanes for a while I believe. Possibly.

          I share your frustration with state of our nation's space program, such as it is, a mere shadow of what it once was. As just about everything is these days, it is the result of money and politics, and both are against folks like us. So remember to vote, and root for companies like SpaceX. Maybe someday we'll find the pony….

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