SpaceX leases property for landing pads at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg

August 18, 2016 – 07:42 pm

Artist's concept of a Falcon rocket stage on final descent to a vertical propulsive landing as envisioned by SpaceX. Credit: SpaceXSpaceX plans to set up landing pads on abandoned launch sites at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base in a step toward the company’s vision for eventual recovery and reuse of rocket boosters.

The Hawthorne, California-based launch company has signed leases to take over decommissioned launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Air Force officials said.

Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander of the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, signed a five-year leasing agreement with SpaceX for Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 13 to be transitioned into a landing pad for reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket boosters, the service said in a Feb. 10 statement.

The landing facilities will be used for vertical touchdowns of rocket stages for SpaceX’s Falcon rocket family, a step toward making the launchers reusable and cutting the cost of space transportation.

Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, signs a five-year lease agreement for SpaceX to use Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a landing pad. Credit: U.S. Air Force“The way we see it, this is a classic combination of a highly successful launch past morphing into an equally promising future, ” Gen. Armagno said in a statement. “It’s a whole new world, and the 45th Space Wing is committed to defining and building the spaceport of the future.”

Launch Complex 13 was used for 51 launches of Atlas missiles and Atlas-Agena rockets from 1958 to 1978. The Air Force demolished the launch pad’s mobile service tower in 2005 and its blockhouse in 2012 to prepare the site for a new user.

“For decades, we have been refining our procedures for getting successful launches skyward here on the Eastern Range. Now we’re looking at processes on how to bring first stage rockets back to Earth at the first landing pad at the Cape, ” Armagno said. “We live in exciting times here on the Space Coast.”

A draft environmental assessment prepared for SpaceX and the Air Force indicates Launch Complex 13 site will be used for landings of a single Falcon 9 first stage or a booster core from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which is formed by assembling three Falcon 9 first stages together.

The document does not cover a scenario for landing multiple boosters at Launch Complex 13 at one time.

The Falcon 9 rocket takes off from nearby Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX is readying a former space shuttle launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center just north of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for Falcon Heavy flights and crew launches with the Falcon 9.

According to the environment assessment, SpaceX plans to construct a 200-foot by 200-foot square concrete landing pad at Launch Complex 13, surrounded by four 150-foot diameter “contingency” landing pads.

“The contingency pads would only be utilized in order to enable the safe landing of a single vehicle should last-second navigation and landing diversion be required, ” officials wrote in the environmental assessment. “There are no plans to utilize the contingency pads in order to enable landing multiple stages at LC-13 during a single landing event.”


Source: spaceflightnow.com

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