NASA's Kennedy Space Center Unveils Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad

A computer-aided aerial image of Launch Pad 39B, and the new Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad, designated Pad 39C, in the southeast area of the perimeter of pad B. Credits: NASA/David Zeiters.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step forward in its transformation to a 21st Century multi-user spaceport with the completion of the new Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad, designated 39C, in the Launch Pad 39B area.

This designated pad to test smaller rockets will make it more affordable for smaller aerospace companies to develop and launch from the center, and to break into the commercial spaceflight market.

Kennedy Director Bob Cabana and representatives from the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program and the Center Planning and Development (CPD) and Engineering Directorates marked the completion of the new pad during a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 17.

"As America's premier spaceport, we're always looking for new and innovative ways to meet America's launch needs, and one area that was missing was small class payloads," Cabana said. "Using 21st Century funds, we built Pad 39C."

GSDO oversaw the project and is working with CPD to grow commercial space efforts at Kennedy. Construction of the pad began in January and was completed in June.

"Pad 39C is the latest addition to our portfolio of launch pads," said Scott Colloredo, CPD director. "The small class market is here. The demand for that kind of launcher is increasing. The key here is this is really what a launch site for a small class launcher needs to look like."


Center Director Bob Cabana, center, helps cut the ribbon on the new Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad, designated 39C, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Also helping to cut the ribbon are, from left, Pat Simpkins, director, Engineering Directorate; Rich Koller, senior vice president with design firm Jones Edmunds; Scott Colloredo, director, Center Planning and Development; and Michelle Shoultz, president of Frazier Engineering; The new launch pad, located in the southeast area of the Launch Pad 39B perimeter, is designed to attract smaller aerospace companies and enable them to develop and launch their vehicles from Kennedy. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program oversaw construction of the new pad and is working with Center Planning and Development to grow commercial space efforts at Kennedy. Credits: NASA

The concrete pad measures about 50 feet wide by about 100 feet long and could support the combined weight of a fueled launch vehicle, payload and customer-provided launch mount up to about 132,000 pounds, and an umbilical tower structure, fluid lines, cables and umbilical arms weighing up to about 47,000 pounds.

GSDO also developed a universal propellant servicing system to provide liquid oxygen and liquid methane fueling capabilities for a variety of small class rockets.

"This is absolutely great to designate a new pad within the confines of Pad 39B. I'm looking forward to having customers here in the not too distant future, making use of this outstanding facility," Cabana said.


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