NASA Weighs Competing Blue Origin, SpaceX Proposals for Pad 39-A

Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)
Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

NASA is evaluating proposals from SpaceX and Blue Origin for use of Pad 39A, which formerly launched space shuttles but is no longer needed for space agency missions:

NASA was close to an agreement on a 15-year lease of Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A to SpaceX, which could use it in the next few years for launches of astronauts to the International Space Station and for a planned heavy-lift Falcon rocket.

But Blue Origin, which has not yet flown a vehicle in space but may compete with SpaceX long-term, has instead proposed taking over the pad and equipping it to serve multiple launch providers, including SpaceX.

“We believe the fullest commercial use of that facility is as a multi-user pad, and we think we’ve got the long-term financial commitment and the technical ability to make it successful,” said Rob Meyerson, president of Blue Origin….

Several U.S. launch companies did not submit proposals to use pad 39A, including ATK, Orbital Sciences Corp. and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture owned by The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

ULA, however, which builds Atlas V and Delta IV rockets in Alabama and is competing with SpaceX to launch NASA crews and potentially national security satellites, has written Blue Origin a letter supporting its concept for Launch Complex 39.

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