Space Florida Approves Shuttle Landing Facility Agreement

The Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. (Credit: NASA)
The Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

The Space Florida Board of Directors unanimously approved an agreement with NASA today to take over operations of the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

Under the agreement, the state will take over responsibility for the runway’s annual operating and maintenance costs for 30 years, with extensions possible as tenants sign leases and make long-term investments in infrastructure.

Space Florida plans to spend about $5 million over the next two years to upgrade runway infrastructure that NASA hasn’t needed much since the shuttle program retired in 2011.

“This is a game-changer,” said Bill Dymond, chairman of Space Florida’s board. “This facility really is about the future, and horizontal launch and landing I think will uniquely position us to really be a leader in the future.”

  • SpaceTech

    Falling into disrepair in ……3….2…1

  • Kapitalist

    If horizontal landing is the future, then there won’t be much space exploration ahead of us. I think this category of idea is already in the trash can of history by now. Having only one single place on Earth where you can land your spacecraft, and no place anywhere else in the solar system. And by using large heavy aerodynamic structures to accomplish even that, given only a narrow window of approach trajectories, it seems too risky and expensive to compete with modern ideas about vertical landing which uses the same hardware that launched the thing in the first place to land it anywhere.

  • dbooker

    WOO HOO. Can the money being saved by NASA applied to the Commercial Crew program before it gets sucked into the SLS black hole.

  • mattmcc80

    One size doesn’t fit all. Lifting bodies are fine for returning mass from LEO to the surface of the Earth, even if they’re suboptimal for everything else. That doesn’t make them useless. For example, the cancelled X-38 would have made (and still could one day) a useful escape pod for ISS or other stations. Of course, it didn’t require a landing strip..

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Let student pilots use it. That way they can focus on getting their approach angle correct and do a nice gentle flare out and not worry about running out of runway.

  • James

    Nothing wrong with lifing bodies like the dream chaser as long as they are used for returning people and such and not as some idiotic space craft.

    The Dream chaser is basically what NASA wanted all those years ago for the space shuttle…..if only….

  • Kapitalist

    A lifting body is great for landing through an atmosphere, especially if it could do a vertical landing in the end. I agree that NASA was probably created in order to make a Dream Chaser or some other suborbital/LEO airplane. And the Shuttle was the best they could do back in the 1970’s. It was over ambitious then but has become so much easier today. I personally don’t care much for such toys. I’m instead into “idiotic” deep spacecrafts. Stuff that moves to somewhere, not boomerangs returning to square zero.