SpaceX Busy on Both Coasts

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is busy on both coasts preparing Pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for an upcoming Falcon Heavy launch and signing leases to develop landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

NASASpaceflight.com reports that a lot of construction work is taking place on the old space shuttle launch pad.

That work began late last year, focusing on the perimeter area of the pad, related to preparations for the building of the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF).

This building is set to house the Falcon Heavy rocket and associated hardware and payloads during processing.

Pad 39A photos show the launch mount is now under construction under the shadow of the Fixed Service Structure (FSS) and Rotating Service Structure (RSS) that will remain in place for the opening missions.

During rollout, the Falcon Heavy will be transported out of the HIF atop the Transporter Erector (TE), which will ride on rails, up the famous 39A ramp to the launch mount.

SpaceX originally announced plans to launch Falcon Heavy from Vandenberg in California in early 2013. The company has never explained the reasons for the delays or the change in the launch site.

Spaceflight Now reports SpaceX has signed a lease with the Air Force to convert a former launch pad at Vandenberg into a landing pad for returning Falcon 9 stages.

SpaceX has also signed an agreement to lease the disused Space Launch Complex 4-West launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the primary spaceport on the U.S. West Coast.

Space Launch Complex 4-West was last used for Titan 2 rocket launches in 2003. It lies near SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch pad at Vandenberg.

The landing pad to be developed there may be similar to SpaceX’s plans at the Launch Complex 13 site at Cape Canaveral, but terms of the Vandenberg leasing agreement have not been disclosed.