Kennedy Space Center Master Plan

A New Generation...A Multi-User Spaceport

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The most recognized function of KSC is the transportation of people and payloads to orbit and beyond. Having the facilities and infrastructure to support transportation of people and cargo out of Earth's atmosphere and into outer space is what qualifies space as a fifth mode of transportation.

KSC's vertical launch capability includes Launch Pads 39A, 39B, and Launch Complex 41, as well as the Crawlerway. The center also has the capability of supporting horizontal launch and landing operations utilizing the Shuttle Landing Facility and associated support infrastructure. All launch operations at KSC and CCAFS are currently supported by the U.S. Air Force-operated Eastern Range, which includes the mechanism and launch infrastructure that supports space transportation at KSC.


Launch pad 39A

  • Launch Pad 39A is one of the most iconic and historically significant vertical launch pads in the world. Pad A has the distinction of hosting the first Saturn V launch in 1967 and was last used in 2011 for the launch of Atlantis, which concluded launch operations of the Space Shuttle Program.
  • With the retirement of the shuttle program, Pad A was identified as not having a future NASA programmatic use.  The use of this asset was competed through an Announcement for Proposals (AFP), and SpaceX was selected to operate Pad A under a 20-year use agreement.  SpaceX is modifying the launch infrastructure at Pad A to become more flexible for a variety of launch operations.


Launch Pad 39B

  • Launch Pad 39B was originally identical in design to Pad A.
  • Pad B was deactivated by NASA in 2007 for modifications in support of the successor program, which has become NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), and to accommodate multiple flight vehicles in concert with KSC’s multi-user spaceport model.
  • Since its deactivation, Pad B has had its flight service structure removed to reflect a “clean pad” concept. This concept allows rockets to be transported to the pad on their own Mobile Launch Platform (MLP), including related service structure, as opposed to custom structures on the pad. The liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, and sound suppression water tanks are the only structures left from the shuttle program.
  • The clean pad concept increases versatility and flexibility and supports KSC’s multi-user model by allowing the pad to be used by multiple customers with various types of vehicles in concert with SLS launch operations.
  • Modifications of Pad B are ongoing and will be completed within the near term of this Master Plan.


Space Launch Complex 41

  • Space Launch Complex 41 is a NASA asset currently leased to the U.S. Air Force and, since 2002, has been utilized for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V Program.
  • SLC-41 is not served by the Crawlerway, as is the case with Pads A and B.  Instead, the flight hardware is assembled in a vertical integration facility and moved to the pad using a rail mounted MLP.


Horizontal Launch & Landing

  • Horizontal launch and landing capability is provided via the SLF.
  • The SLF’s 15,000-foot runway is the longest paved runway in the world committed to horizontal launch and landing of people and cargo to and from destinations outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The SLF was built to support a single user, NASA, in support of the landing of the shuttle orbiter. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, the SLF was identified as not having a future NASA programmatic use.  The use of this asset was competed through a Request for Information (RFI), and Space Florida was selected to operate the runway under a 30-year use agreement.  Space Florida is modifying the SLF to allow the asset to support commercial users once the market is ready.  In the near term, NASA and a variety of commercial users conduct operations at the SLF.


Launch Support Infrastructure

  • The Crawlerway is a unique dual-lane roadway designed for carrying crawler-transporter vehicles and their loads from the VAB to Launch Pads 39A and 39B. This roadway is 130 feet wide with twin 40-foot wide, 7-foot deep, river rock-covered lanes called track-ways. The track-ways are separated by a 50-foot-wide grass median. The Crawlerway extends 3.4 miles from the VAB to Pad A and 4.2 miles to Pad B.
  • The Crawlerway road design allows expansion to access proposed launch areas. The Crawlerway is currently being upgraded to support the transport of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle between the VAB and Pad B.
  • The Eastern Range (the Range) is operated by the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing (45SW) out of Patrick Air Force Base with the purpose of ensuring that no launches from KSC or CCAFS endanger civilian lives or property.
  • The Range starts at the launch pads at KSC and CCAFS and includes a network of tracking and instrumentation stations that extends eastward over the Atlantic Ocean and into the Indian Ocean.
  • Range operators track rockets from the moment they leave their pads and can trigger the self-destruct mechanism if an inconsistency develops with its path and pre-determined launch corridor.
  • The 45SW also coordinates efforts to make sure commercial aircraft are clear of restricted areas during launch countdowns, provides weather forecasts, and partners with the U.S. Coast Guard to patrol water within the launch safety zone. Waters within the launch safety zone are patrolled jointly by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Air Force.
  • A major component of launch activities is reserving the Range, which must be done in advance of a proposed launch.

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