Friday, July 15, 2011

A 21st Century Space Launch Complex

A comparison chart of various launch vehicles — past, present and future. Source: NASA.

A pair of presentations located on NASA web sites reveal the agency's plans to convert Kennedy Space Center into a "21st Century Space Launch Complex."

The links to these presentations were posted July 3 on the forum.

The links are (Abobe Acrobat Reader required):

21st Century Space Launch Complex: Architectures Overview dated March 21, 2011.

21st Century Ground Systems Program: Program Planning Status dated May 3, 2011.

There's some overlap between the two presentations, but also some similarities.

One similarity is the above chart.

Among the interesting vehicles illustrated in the presentation are the Falcon Heavy and a generic NASA heavy-lift vehicle that may be the Space Launch System.

The chart suggests that several vehicles may launch from their own pads, or from the current Shuttle pads at Launch Complex 39. LC-39B is currently being converted to the "clean pad" concept which would allow any launcher, government or commercial, to use the facility. LC-39A may share its fate.

The illustrations are discussed in a July 13 article about the conversion of the Orbital Processing Facilities to commercial use.

Author Chris Bergin writes:

Numerous presentations ... have been drawn up and modified — the latest of which was written in June — showing KSC as the home port for a new family of vehicles, ranging from Orion/MPCV, through to commercial vehicles, and the SLS.

While all the vehicles depicted may not wish to take up KSC as their new location, the Florida spaceport has made no secret about its desire to open up the use of its assets, such as the SLF, VAB, Pad 39B — which has almost completed its transition to a clean pad — and indeed the OPFs.

As noted earlier today, Boeing is negotiating to lease OPF-3 for the CST-100, and last week NASA and Sierra Nevada announced plans to use KSC facilities for the Dream Chaser space plane.

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