Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This Space For Lease

A computer animation of a notional Stratolaunch mission from the KSC runway. Video source: Stratolaunch YouTube channel.

A deal literally years in the making is finally official.

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced at the Paris Air Show that the State of Florida has agreed to terms with NASA to lease the former Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

A tentative deal was announced in July 2013, but negotiations dragged on for two years.

According to the Space Florida press release:

The Shuttle Landing Facility will be used by Space Florida as a testing ground for new technologies and companies. It will serve a wide variety of customers such as Just-In-Time delivery companies, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) systems, NASCAR, and a new generation of space launch vehicles.

The release states the lease is for thirty years. The formal signing ceremony will be June 22.

Several commercial companies have publicly expressed interest in the runway, including Stratolaunch, XCOR, Swiss Space Systems, and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The U.S. Air Force intends to land the Boeing X-37B at the runway, near the two former Shuttle orbiter hangars recently refurbished for the uncrewed orbital space plane.

In related news, NASA yesterday solicited proposals for commercial use of the Vehicle Assembly Building's High Bay 2, as well as the three Mobile Launch Platforms that go back to the Apollo era of the 1960s. NASA solicited proposals for the MLPs back in 2013 but found no takers.

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