Space Shuttle Atlantis waits on the launchpad ahead of its final launch.
(Florida Today) -- Commercial rocket launcher? Museum exhibit? Artificial reef?
are potential uses for three historic mobile launch platforms from
which NASA's moon rockets and space shuttles leapt toward space, but
which now sit idle.
If those don't pan out, the two-story, 8.2 million-pound structures could be bound for the scrap heap.
does not currently have a need for the Mobile Launch Platforms to
support current and future mission activities," said Tracy Young, a
Kennedy Space Center spokeswoman. "Because of this factor, we are
seeking information and concepts for traditional and non-traditional
potential use of the structures as well as potential disposal options."
"MLPs" are the latest shuttle program remnants NASA is trying to
repurpose or get rid of, since it can't afford to store and maintain
The shuttles themselves are now on display around the country, including Atlantis at the KSC Visitor Complex.
of Kennedy's two launch pads, the shuttle runway and orbiter hangars
are among other former shuttle facilities seeking new tenants.
steel, battleship gray platforms served as bases atop which Saturn
rockets and later shuttles were stacked and bolted for rollout atop
massive crawler-transporters and placement on launch pad pedestals.
They provided power and umbilical connections to the rockets and holes for flame and exhaust to flow through.
hollow structure, big enough to hold a baseball infield, features "an
elaborate maze of pathways, compartments, plumbing, and electrical
cabling," according to a NASA description.
Now the mothballed platforms are parked in the Vehicle Assembly Building, in a nearby lot and at launch pad 39A.
hopes private companies will claim one or more of them as bases for
commercial rocket launches, either borrowing the equipment as needed or
buying it at auction.Potential costs were not disclosed.
proposals will get the greatest consideration, but the agency also is
collecting information from companies that could demolish MLPs for
recycling and disposal, like the shuttle service towers that were
dismantled at pad 39B.
third option invites "alternative and innovative solutions for
divestment," uses that might not be space-related but could benefit the
Examples: a museum exhibit, artificial reef or oil rig structure.
says it has no money available for any of the options, but wants to
better understand their potential costs and risks. Proposals are due by
modification or deconstruction plan will require special approval,
because the three mobile launch platforms are eligible for listing on
the National Register of Historic Places for their service to the
is building a new base and tower for its next heavy-lift exploration
rocket, the Space Launch System. It is modifying a mobile launcher
originally designed for the canceled Ares I rocket.