As NASA’s Kennedy Space Center marks its 50th birthday this year, it finds itself facing a “wrenching middle-age transition,” The Washington Post reports. The once-thriving Florida spaceport is now trying to attract new tenants for numerous facilities no longer needed in the wake of the space shuttle’s retirement.
“I don’t have the money to maintain them, I don’t have the money to tear them down. They’re just going to sit and rot,” said Robert Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center.
That is, unless new tenants are found. Cabana hopes the center will become a hub for private companies working to build a new generation of crewed space vehicles. But U.S. funding for the program is murky: Congress provided less than half of the requested $850 million for commercial crew in 2012, and NASA officials have become less optimistic about the 2013 picture, according to Joseph Dyer, chairman of the agency’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.
“If the new [lower] funding level continues into the future, we believe the program is in jeopardy,” Dyer said.