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SpaceX Pad 39A - KSC (updates #1)

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Posted

DONE DEAL BABY!

Launchers: Falcon 9 v1.1, F9R, Falcon Heavy, FHR, BFR (placeholder name for a super-heavy launcher more powerful than Saturn V, Shuttle, SLS or Energiya)

Missions: NASA and military, DragonRider commercial crew, commercial satellites,deep space (including Mars)

April 13, 2014

NASA Hosts Launch Complex 39A Status Update

NASA will provide a status update on Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 p.m. EDT, Monday, April 14 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The update, which will be held at pad 39A, will not be carried live on NASA Television.

The update is open to media already badged for Monday's SpaceX launch to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Pass and Identification Building on State Road 3, Merritt Island, will be open to pick up media credentials on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Monday from 7

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Posted

Nice!

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http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2014/04/14/spacex-takes-over-ksc-pad-39a/7711859/

SpaceX takes over KSC pad 39A

SpaceX today signed a 20-year agreement to take over Kennedy Space Center's historic launch pad 39A, the starting point for Apollo moon shots and numerous shuttle missions.

"We'll make great use of this pad, I promise," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer, during an announcement at the pad.

SpaceX hopes to launch a Falcon Heavy rocket from KSC in the first quarter of next year.

SpaceX plans to build a processing hangar near the pad and utilize much of the existing infrastructure, Shotwell said.

The pad would launch astronauts if NASA selects SpaceX to fly crews to the International Space Station.

The company is one of several competing for the contracts to be awarded later this year, along with Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp., which would launch on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.

NASA no longer needs pad 39A, and in December chose SpaceX over Blue Origin to negotiate an agreement to take over responsibility for operating and maintaining the pad.

The deal was signed moments before today's announcement with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and KSC Director Bob Cabana, both former shuttle astronauts who have launched from pad 39A.

"Pad A has served the human spaceflight program well through Apollo and shuttle," said Cabana. "It's going to continue to play a vital role in our nation's future."

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Do we have any images of how the pad is going to look like, I mean... are they going to tear down the entire structure or are they going to semi-dismantle it?

 

If they plan for the first launch in Q1 2015 I doubt they have time for a complete rebuild.

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There have been some intetesting plans floated by both SpaceX and knowledgeable folks.

The strong indications are a Vandenberg-like F9/FH horizontal integration facility outside the 39A gate and next to the ramp will come first, this to get basic F9 & FH capabilities up and running fast.

Another likely change in addition to the HIF are launch pad and flame trench upgrades allowing the 10 meter BFR to launch there as well. The single core BFR is VERY likely for 39A.

Upgrades? 39A was fitted to handle some versions of NOVA, up to 12.5 mlbf of thrust, and recent statements by Musk indicate the Block 2 BFR will have 15 mlbf of thrust. This would mean a block 2 Raptor upgraded to 1.67 mlbf :ninja:

We know the Shuttle rotating service structure (RSS) goes first, much like the 'Clean Pad' changes to 39B for SLS, and strongly suspect the fixed service structure (FSS) gets fitted with multiple access arms for multiple vehicles - including a crew access arm for DragonRider.

A BIG hammerhead payload crane atop FSS for vertically integrating NRO and especially cargo BFR payloads will be essential.

There's a gorgeous NSF-L2 user created concept of such a setup, minus the crane, based on the original 39A plans, but I can't repost it because it was uploaded to the L2 private forum.

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Vertical integration is part of the USAF EELV spec. There are numerous ways to do it at both KSC 39A and Vandenberg.

39A has the plus of having the fixed service structure, which could get a big hammerhead crane and arm with an enclosure. That or they could strip down the moving service structure to bare essentials instead of demo'ing it, adding an enclosure. Higher than below, and with the fixed tower crane.

lc39a-comml.jpg

Vandenberg SLC-4E could get a tower with crane and enclosure bridging the cover of the flame trench (left of white T/E below.) Make it so it can retract on rails for launch .

Vandy3.jpg

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Fox has a good report of the SpaceX-NASA announcement. Key outtakes. Doesn't sound like the rotating service structure is in the plan .

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/16/nasa-hands-over-historic-apollo-era-launch-pad-to-spacex/

>

On Monday, NASA signed a property agreement with SpaceX beginning a 20-year lease to occupy and use the launch pad. Over the course of the next two decades, the Hawthorne, California-based company will operate and maintain the facility at its own expense.

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"We've had architects in our launch site engineering team working for many months on the sidelines," Shotwell said. "We will launch the Falcon Heavy from here from this pad early next year. We'll carry on with additional commercial launches next year, and, if we are granted the pleasure of moving forward in the commercial crew program, we would launch the Dragon capsule with crew here at 39A as well."

SpaceX claims the Falcon Heavy will be the "world's most powerful rocket." With its 27 first stage engines and ability to lift to orbit the equivalent mass of a Boeing 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel, only the Saturn V, last flown from Pad 39A in 1973, delivered more payload to space than will the Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX representatives have said that the company plans to retain and extend upward the 350 foot high fixed service structure that was added to Pad 39A for use by the space shuttle. The pad's rotating service structure, the large gantry that swung around to envelop the orbiter to install cargo in its payload bay, is not needed for Falcon rockets and may be removed.

"We'll have to build the launch head or launch crown over the infrastructure here, we'll leverage a lot of the plumbing that exists, we will have to bring in some of our own, and critically, we'll be bringing in all of our own instrumentation systems," Shotwell described. "We'll be building a hangar ... to roll the vehicle out, go vertical and launch."

NASA's terms for the lease mandated that several of the pad's more iconic parts be preserved for history, including the gaseous oxygen vent arm mounted at the top of the fixed service structure and the emergency egress bunker, or "rubber room," located under the pad's surface.

Last year, NASA lowered and removed Pad 39A's orbiter access arm. Capped by a "white room" through which the astronauts entered the shuttle, the arm was held for future display.

They'll be some modifications to [the launch pad], but the historic elements we are leaving," Shotwell said.

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SpaceX now has responsibility for three launch pads: two in Florida, Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center and Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and one in southern California, Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The company has also said it is considering establishing a new launch pad in Texas.

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Posted

What's the reasoning that the USAF requires vertical integration? When infrastructure has to go vertical, things tend to get more expensive.

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With vertical integration large payloads (and spysats can be huge) aren't cantilevered while fueled as they are with horizontal integration. While the spysats can handle 5-6 G's in launch compression loads, the satellite bus (framework, basic elements) is built to take less at an angle or on their side to make them lighter (lighter bus = more or larger sensors.) If fueled up horizontally then stresses as they are rotated to vertical can cause damage or leaks. Solution: fuel, encapsulate in the fairing and install vertically.

Vertical integration also provides 360

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Could SpaceX horizontally integrate the first and second stage then go vertical for the sat integration?

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Absolutely! That's what Delta IV does.

At Vandenberg they could build a fixed or moving tower across the flame pit, bridging the trench cover.

Vandy3(tower).jpg

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