Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Science & Space

NASA moves to commercialize Kennedy Space Center space shuttle landing strip

See also

A Sunday story in Florida Today reports that NASA has started the paperwork going to commercialize the old space shuttle landing strip at the Kennedy Space Center. The idea is to convert it to a commercial space port for vehicles that takeoff and land like aircraft. Possible customers include XCOR and Stratolaunch Systems. This plan is part of an overall drive to convert KSC to a dual use government and private space port.

In order to make the shuttle landing strip a commercial space port, new infrastructure will have to be built including aircraft hangars, aircraft aprons, taxiways, buildings, parking, utilities, roadways and stormwater ponds. This in turn will affect 36 acres of wetlands and 5 acres of surface waters. These impacts, thanks to environmental regulations, will have to be made up elsewhere.

The conversion of the space shuttle landing strip is not the only commercialization effort at KSC, NASA has already leased the old space shuttle Pad 39A to SpaceX, which will use it to launch its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. An old space shuttle processing facility is being leased to Boeing for its publicly financed, commercially operated CST-100 spacecraft. Florida is still vying to attract a SpaceX space port north of KSC, though it looks like that the entrepreneurial space launch company will chose a Texas site instead.

It is clear that Florida would greatly benefit from these commercial developments at what was once a solely government run space launch facility. The state has suffered an economic hit thanks to the end of the space shuttle program. The scope and extent of the follow on space exploration program, which would involve the launch of the heavy lift Space Launch System from Pad 39B, is as yet uncertain. Thus the commercialization efforts are driven as much by necessity as it is from a policy of encouraging commercial space development.

Advertisement

News

  • Baseball Hall of Fame
    The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown welcomes six new inductees
    Video
    Video
  • 2012 do-over
    If we were to re-do the 2012 election, a new poll suggests Romney would win
    Politics
  • Boko Haram
    Boko Haram kidnaps the wife of the vice prime minister of Cameroon
    World News
  • Ceasefire breaks
    Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu claims Hamas broke another brief ceasefire
    Gaza
  • Close call with CME
    Scientists tell how Earth survived a giant solar flare back in 2012
    Space
  • Comic-Con
    What's going on at Comic-Con? Get all the latest updates here
    Comic-Con