NASA to sell 4,100 tonne Shuttle launch platforms
Houston: NASA is selling three enormous launch platforms that were used to send the Apollo Saturn rockets and space shuttles into space, along with other items including spare tyres from space shuttle.
NASA plans to sell most of the terminated space shuttle programme`s infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center to individual space exploration companies.
After the final launch of the Atlantis shuttle on July 8, 2011, `America`s Spaceport` remains practically deserted with no launches scheduled until 2017, and thus NASA seeks to lease or sell the facilities it has accumulated, Voice of America reported.
NASA currently pays USD 1.5 billion to Russia`s Roskosmos space agency to deliver each astronaut to the International Space Station.
The Launch Complex 39A pad, which has been standing idle for two years, is going to be sold along with a shuttle landing runway and three launch-ready spacecraft transporters.
"At this point NASA is looking to gauge interest for potential use of the [platforms] and concepts for potential use," NASA spokeswoman Tracy Young has said.
Two competing space travel companies, backed by internet billionaires, have placed bids on the renowned launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Proposals for a new shuttle launch platform are due by September 6 and NASA is currently assessing two competing bids.
One of those bids is from Space Exploration Technologies - also known as SpaceX, which was co-founded by online commerce giant PayPal`s Elon Musk. The other interested party is
Blue Origin, a startup owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.Com.
Both firms say they are ready to take over maintenance and operations of the launch pad on October 1.
Privately owned company SpaceX, which was founded 11 years ago, has already successfully launched its Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station and plans to develop it into a manned space vehicle.
SpaceX wants Launch Complex 39A all for itself, believing that adopting a complex for various customers would be excessively expensive. They also plan for an expansion of their activities and a tight launch schedule in the future.
After the sale, The main NASA facilities that will remain are the shuttle launch pad 39B, plus various hangars for the Orion deep space capsule to be launched by NASA`s heavy lift rocket, due to begin test flights in 2017.
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