Friday, December 13, 2013

NASA Chooses SpaceX for LC-39A

One day after Blue Origin lost a protest backed by United Launch Alliance, NASA chose SpaceX as its potential partner to lease an agreement for the future use of Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A.

From the official NASA press release:

NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., to begin negotiations on a lease to use and operate historic Launch Complex (LC) 39A at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Permitting use and operation of this valuable national asset by a private-sector, commercial space partner will ensure its continued viability and allow for its continued use in support of U.S. space activities.

The reuse of LC-39A is part of NASA’s work to transform the Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex capable of supporting both government and commercial users. Kennedy is having success attracting significant private sector interest in its unique facilities. The center is hard at work assembling NASA’s Orion spacecraft and preparing its infrastructure for the Space Launch System rocket, which will launch from LC-39B and take American astronauts into deep space, including to an asteroid and Mars.

NASA made the selection decision Thursday after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest filed against the Agency by Blue Origin LLC on Sept. 13. In its protest, Blue Origin raised concerns about the competitive process NASA was using to try to secure a potential commercial partner or partners to lease and use LC-39A. Blue Origin had argued the language in the Announcement for Proposals (AFP) favored one proposed use of LC-39A over others. The GAO disagreed.

While the GAO protest was underway, NASA was prohibited from selecting a commercial partner for LC-39A from among the proposals submitted in response to the agency's AFP that had been issued on May 23. However, while the GAO considered the protest, NASA continued evaluating the proposals in order to be prepared to make a selection when permitted to do so. After the GAO rendered its decision Thursday in NASA’s favor, the agency completed its evaluation and selection process.

NASA notified all proposers on Friday of its selection decision concerning LC-39A. Further details about NASA’s decision will be provided to each proposer when NASA furnishes the source selection statement to the proposers. In addition, NASA will offer each the opportunity to meet to discuss NASA’s findings related to the proposer’s individual proposal. NASA will release the source selection statement to the public once each proposer has been consulted to ensure that any proprietary information has been appropriately redacted.

NASA will begin working with SpaceX to negotiate the terms of its lease for LC-39A. During those ongoing negotiations, NASA will not be able to discuss details of the pending lease agreement.

More on the story as it develops.

UPDATE December 14, 2013 — News stories on the LC-39A lease:

Bloomberg News “NASA Chooses Musk’s SpaceX to Negotiate Launch Pad Lease”

Florida Today “SpaceX Gets Nod for Use of KSC Site”

Los Angeles Times “NASA Selects SpaceX to Take Over Historic Launchpad” “SpaceX Enter Negotiations to Breathe New Life into Pad 39A”

NBC News “SpaceX Wins NASA's Nod to Take Over Historic Launch Pad 39A”

Orlando Sentinel “NASA Picks SpaceX to Run KSC Launch Complex”

Reuters “NASA Picks SpaceX to Lease Idled Shuttle Launch Pad”

Space News “NASA Negotiating Pad Lease with SpaceX after GAO Rejects Blue Origin Protest”

Spaceflight Now “SpaceX to Begin Negotiations for Shuttle Launch Pad”

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