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  [Discuss] SpaceX's use of Launch Complex 39A

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] SpaceX's use of Launch Complex 39A
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-15-2013 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic SpaceX's use of Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A focused on status updates, reader's feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss SpaceX's lease of Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

dabolton
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posted 12-15-2013 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How much of the existing super structure on Pad 39A will be re-purposed?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-15-2013 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is still be seen. SpaceX hasn't released many details about their intended use of Pad 39A, other than to suggest it will be for the heavy-line of Falcon rockets and possibly commercial crew. But what that means for the fixed and rotating service structures is not yet known.

Gonzo
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posted 12-16-2013 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would imagine a lot of that will be determined by the wording of the lease. Keep in mind (although I can't imagine SpaceX not going forward with this) that according to the press release Robert posted, the lease is not yet finalized. That is, it is still being discussed.

On the other hand, GO SPACEX! Personally, I'm looking forward to them using this amazing facility. It means so much more than a commercial enterprise using this historic site. It will also have major implications in the future for space exploration. We NEED to have commercial enterprise be allowed (and encouraged) to look at space exploration. It is only with commercial use will it become mainstream. Look at airplanes. In the beginning they too were just experiments and then they were (for all intents) just gov't machines used, let's say, for defensive means. Then once commercial enterprise started building and using them for commercial uses, they really took off (sorry for the pun).

I see space exploration as following the same scenario. So until we start having commercial enterprise using space, it will forever be limited to very limited gov't uses.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-16-2013 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gonzo:
I would imagine a lot of that will be determined by the wording of the lease.
I believe NASA's Announcement for Proposals allowed for the structures to be removed, with the exception of three specific components, as noted in our article:
...the company will be required to maintain and provide NASA access to components on the pad for their historic preservation, including the gaseous oxygen vent arm at the top of the pad's fixed service structure and the emergency egress bunker, or "rubber room," located under the pad's surface.

Earlier this year, the space agency lowered and removed the pad's orbiter access arm. The arm, which is capped by the "white room" through which the astronauts entered the space shuttle, was placed into storage for future display.

So long as those components are preserved, I believe everything else can go — if SpaceX desires.

dabolton
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posted 12-16-2013 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What is the importance of the gaseous vent arm? Seems like a simple mechanical thing. I more understand the keeping of the human-centric rubber room underneath.

Ronpur
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posted 12-16-2013 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One (39-B?) is displayed with Atlantis, so I assume the other would be displayed at another Shuttle.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-16-2013 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The GOX arm is one of the few recognizable — you might even say iconic — parts of the pad due to its support the "beanie cap."

As mentioned, the Pad 39B GOX arm is on display in the Space Shuttle Atlantis building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Pad 39A orbiter access arm (OAA) and white room will be joining it on display later next year.

I don't believe a destination for the Pad 39A GOX arm has been decided yet.

dabolton
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posted 12-17-2013 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think removing and redisplaying the rubber room could be a interesting interactive display.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-20-2013 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has released its selection statement for the lease of Pad 39A. It includes some details about SpaceX's intended use of the launch complex:
  • SpaceX has proposed launching vehicles from Pad 39A as early as 2015, pending the agreement of their customer(s).

  • SpaceX requested either a 20-year exclusive lease or a 5-year lease with three five-year options. NASA rejected the 5-year lease as "not in the best interest of the government."

  • Though details of how SpaceX plans to convert Pad 39A are not included, the selection authority cited SpaceX's ability to convert LC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base as reason to believe that SpaceX could execute its plan to convert Pad 39A.

Cozmosis22
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posted 04-15-2014 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, so are we missing something here? Nowhere is it mentioned how much this SpaceX outfit will be paying to lease the launch pad. Is that some kind of secret or are they essentially getting the control pad for free?

dabolton
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posted 04-15-2014 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It will be exciting to see the SpaceX engineers descend on the pad to modify it for initial launches in early 2015.

Does this lease limit them to the current pad perimeter or could they expand circumferentially it as necessary?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-15-2014 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
Is that some kind of secret or are they essentially getting the control pad for free?
It is a no cost lease, as outlined in the original solicitation:
NASA contemplates that the lease will be under the authority of the Commercial Space Launch Act, 51 U.S.C. § 50913, which requires that NASA set the price for the lease at an amount equal to the direct costs the Government incurs as a result of Tenant's use of the Premises. NASA does not foresee any direct costs associated with Tenant's use of the Premises apart from utilities usage which will be separately metered and charged.
SpaceX will be responsible for all the expenses associated with the operation and maintenance of the complex.

MrSpace86
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posted 04-15-2014 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I apply to SpaceX on a weekly basis. Maybe this 20 year lease is a good thing Shows commitment and long term plans.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-15-2014 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
Does this lease limit them to the current pad perimeter or could they expand circumferentially it as necessary?
The lease is limited to the facilities and systems located within the pad perimeter, with the possible addition of the following adjacent facilities:
  • Pad A Logistics Facility
  • Rechlorination Building
  • Pad A Operations Support Building

dabolton
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posted 04-16-2014 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has SpaceX ever discussed on-pad escape systems? Will they continue to use the slide-wire system from the shuttle era? As a roller coaster enthusiast, I was particularly interested in the proposed roller coaster escape system for Constellation. My fellow club members (10,000 strong) were drooling over getting to ride that.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-16-2014 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX has not yet publicly discussed (in any detail) their planned configuration for Pad 39A. As work gets underway later this summer to start modifying the pad, we may begin to learn what they intend to use.

Cozmosis22
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posted 04-18-2014 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
What is the importance of the gaseous vent arm? Seems like a simple mechanical thing.
It wasn't just a mechanical thing. People occasionally traversed that exhaust arm walkway onto the tippytop of the shuttle stack during launch prep.

Notice the railing around the "beanie cap". (Photo from STS-49.)

LM-12
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posted 01-10-2015 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like a Falcon horizontal rocket facility will be built over the crawlerway at the pad perimeter, and that section of the crawlerway will be gone.
Most of the current work appears to be taking place on the perimeter area of the pad, with the construction of a vehicle building – known as the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) – that will house the Falcon Heavy rocket and associated hardware and payloads during processing.

During rollout, the Falcon Heavy will be transported atop the Transporter Erector (TE), which will ride on rails, up the famous 39A ramp that once saw Space Shuttle and Apollo stacks arrive via the Crawler Transporters.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-25-2015 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX began erecting a new hangar at Pad 39A last week, moving the facility closer to launching astronauts again, Spaceflight Now reports.
Positioned at the south perimeter of launch pad 39A, the hangar sits on the gravel crawlerway used to transport Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles from the nearby Vehicle Assembly building to the launch pad.

...after laying the building's foundation, the Hawthorne, California-based space company started building the frame of the hangar last week.

...workers have installed ground storage tanks for the Falcon launcher's rocket-grade kerosene fuel — called RP-1 — on the northeast edge of the launch pad. SpaceX plans to use the shuttle-era liquid oxygen tank sitting on the northwest side of the pad.

Construction crews are also working in the launch pad's flame trench and will install rails leading up the ramp from the hangar to the Falcon rocket's launch pedestal. The rails will be used to transport the rocket horizontally to the launch pad, where it will be rotated vertical.

Engineers will also fabricate a transporter-erector and strongback device for launch pad 39A.

dabolton
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posted 02-25-2015 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems as though disassembly of the shuttle tower components would be hampered by the addition of new SpaceX structures on at the pad level. The ability to use cranes on the pad itself as was done on 39B deconstruction might not be as feasible now.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-25-2015 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At last update, SpaceX was not planning on removing the fixed or rotating service structures, though it only plans to use the FSS.

mach3valkyrie
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posted 03-01-2015 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there a more precise time frame for the first launch? Leaving the service structures in place should move the date significantly closer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-01-2015 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX's first planned use of Pad 39A is for its first Falcon Heavy test flight. The company is still targeting that launch for later this year, but no date (or even month) has been set.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-06-2015 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX photo release
Continued progress on Pad 39A and its hangar that will house Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-27-2015 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stephen Smith of SpaceKSC.com has posted a gallery of recent photos showing the progress SpaceX is making at Pad 39A.

Here are a few, but click on the link above to see the full set.

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