NASA Seeks Info on Effort To Upgrade Launch Range

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NASA is looking for ways to spend a proposed $2 billion in infrastructure investments over the next five years at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in an effort to create a new 21st century launch complex for civil, commercial and military users, according to a draft request for information issued June 2 by the agency.

KSC wants to assess potential infrastructure investments that could meet the needs of current and future launch range users with an emphasis on providers of commercial space taxi services for astronauts, as well as more-traditional users including NASA, the Air Force, international organizations, academia and other government agencies, according to the document. NASA proposed the KSC modernization program in its 2011 budget request currently before Congress, an effort that officials say could stem job losses associated with the impending retirement of NASA’s aging space shuttle fleet.

KSC will focus its launch complex review on ideas that could enable more efficient manufacturing, integration and testing, payload processing, and launch and recovery operations, according to the draft document.

In addition, NASA is seeking outside perspectives on use of existing capabilities that could benefit commercial providers of crew launch services, range safety issues raised by such services, engineering and support, the role of the government in commercial infrastructure development, management and use, and barriers to drawing business to the Florida launch range.

“We are interested in visiting with current and future launch vehicle, spacecraft, payload processing, and supporting providers to further discuss your thoughts and ideas to improve the launch capabilities of the Florida Launch Range,” states the document. Responses are due July 2.