NASA: The new vehicle is set to lift off from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy no earlier than Feb. 6. By Bob Granath
WEBCAST: SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch, targeted for Feb. 6.
'In 2014, NASA signed a 20-year property agreement with SpaceX for the use and operation of the launch pad.
'Beginning in 2011, Kennedy sought partnerships with the U.S.
aerospace industry to use former space shuttle facilities. Today, NASA
has partnerships with more than 90 companies that enable commercial
space manufacturing, processing and launch operations along Florida’s
'Kennedy’s first significant partnership with industry allowed Boeing
to use Orbiter Processing Facility 3, now known as the Commercial Crew
and Cargo Processing Facility, or C3PF. Here Boeing is manufacturing and
processing its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which is slated to carry
astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX will similarly launch astronauts from Launch Complex 39A for NASA.
'A handful of NASA employees serve as customer advocates and support
the space center’s commercial partners. Through reimbursable Space Act
Agreements, NASA provides services that are needed at a spaceport.
'"We support launch campaign activities such as propellant and life
support services, which includes providing commodities such as helium
and nitrogen to support launch, flight hardware transport and roadblock
security support near the launch pad," said Robyn Mitchell, the NASA
customer advocate who supports SpaceX.
'In her customer advocate role, Mitchell monitors the partner’s
processing and facilities schedules to help ensure their operations and
mission milestones are met. This includes integrating support plans in
response to the partner's requests for services.
'"When partners, such as SpaceX, are preparing for a launch, we have
Support Readiness Reviews," Mitchell said. "While SpaceX is responsible
for the launch vehicle and payload, NASA organizations verify support
requests are complete and confirm the readiness of Kennedy's facilities,
equipment and infrastructure for launch."
'Mitchell noted that the ongoing responsibilities of her office are
key to establishing and maintaining a multi-user spaceport capability at
Kennedy, specifically working with commercial partners to help them
identify technical requirements, anticipate operational impacts and
develop solutions taking advantage of the center's unique launch
infrastructure and capabilities.
'The upcoming test is evidence of the transformation of NASA's Kennedy
Space Center as a multi-user spaceport. NASA and its commercial and
international partners are looking to return humans to the Moon and
beyond, and there will be opportunities for a wide range of rockets and
'NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion
spacecraft is targeted to lift off next year from nearby Launch Complex
39B. The initial SLS rocket is expected to have a liftoff thrust of 8.8
million pounds, and is designed to be an evolvable launch vehicle able
to meet the most challenging deep space crew and cargo needs.
'“As SpaceX continues to refine operations of its Falcon Heavy rocket,
we welcome this capability to be added to those available soon from
NASA’s SLS,” said Tom Engler, Kennedy’s director of Center Planning and