Monday, July 25, 2011

LC-39B Ready for Prime Time

Launch Complex 39-B as it appeared on June 9, 2011. Photo source: NASA.

Spaceflight Now reports that Launch Complex 39B will be the primary site for the Space Launch System (SLS).

LC-39A will be put "in a mothball state."

NASA officials envision pad 39B as the initial home for a heavy-lift rocket to haul humans and cargo into deep space on voyages to asteroids, the moon, Mars and other destinations ...

Pad 39B's future concept will utilize a clean pad design with no permanent structures. The rocket's servicing tower will be bolted to the mobile launch platform and rolled to the pad for final preparations.

A 390-foot-tall mobile launcher designed for the canceled Ares 1 rocket sits outside the VAB. Although the tower doesn't have a mission now, it could be modified for commercial launchers or NASA's heavy-lift rocket program.

Officials currently foresee pad 39B being tailored for the Ares mobile launcher, whatever vehicle it ends up carrying.

LC-39A historically has been the preferred pad of choice, for both the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. LC-39A is about three-quarters of a mile closer to the Vehicle Assembly Building than LC-39B. The transporter-crawler has to make a couple turns along the crawlerway to reach LC-39B.

According to the article, no funding is in the NASA budget to demolish or renovate LC-39A, hence the "mothball" status. It's possible that a future program, perhaps, commercial, may wish to use parts of the existing structure, so for now it will sit idle.

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