For sale: Three Nasa shuttle launch platforms - collection only

The space equipment clearout will also see spare tyres and other items up for grabs

Nasa is selling three giant launch pads originally developed for the Apollo moon missions, along with other bits of space equipment they deem surplus to requirement.

The US space agency are currently considering competing bids to take over a shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center and added the three mobile launch platforms to its list of excess equipment available to private industry on Tuesday.

The Kennedy Space Center launch pad has fast become the most contentious and highest profile piece of shuttle equipment for sale, and has attracted bids from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal and chief executive of electric car company Tesla Motors.

Billionaire Bezos and Muskare are vying for Launch Complex 39A. Nasa intends to keep the second shuttle launch pad, 39B, for a new heavy-lift rocket under development called the Space Launch System.

Nasa sells off around $400 million (£256 million) of equipment no longer need annually, including electronics, test equipment, vehicles, hardware, and aircraft parts.

On occasion, they also auction historic items to museums, according to The Telegraph, such as tyres from the space shuttle and space suit gloves.

Ideally, Nasa wants a commercial launch company to take over one or more of the massive steel platforms, which were originally built in 1967 to support the Apollo moon program's Saturn rockets. The 25-foot (7.6-meter) tall platforms were later modified for the space shuttles, which flew from 1981 until 2011.

A Nasa spokeswoman said they are also "looking to gauge interest" in other ways the launch platforms could be used, which provided power and umbilical connections and had open sections for flames and rocket exhaust to pass through.

Proposals for the launch pads are due in on 6 Sept.

Recycling the platforms, which measure 160 feet by 135 feet (49 by 41 meters) is another option, a solicitation on Nasa's procurement website shows.

Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency will take over the shuttle's runway. They plan to make the runway and support facilities available to a variety of commercial companies, including privately owned XCOR Aerospace, which is developing a two-person, suborbital spaceship called Lynx that takes off and lands like an airplane.

Another potential customer is Stratolaunch Systems, an orbital space vehicle backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Musk's Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, California, wants 39A to launch its Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rockets. The privately owned firm, also known as SpaceX, already flies from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located just south of the Kennedy Space Center.

The first Falcon 9 rocket flight from a new launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is scheduled for next month. The company has a backlog of more than 50 launches, including 10 missions to fly cargo for NASA to the International Space Station.

SpaceX also is developing a version of its Dragon cargo ship to fly astronauts.

Startup Blue Origin, a Kent, Washington, firm owned by Bezos, submitted an alternative proposal to NASA to run pad 39A as a multi-user facility.

Both firms say they are ready to take over maintenance and operations of the launch pad on Oct. 1.

United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, did not bid on the shuttle's launch pad, but has publicly endorsed Blue Origin's proposals. The company, which has a lucrative monopoly on launching U.S. military satellites, is facing its first competition for the business from rival launch pad bidder SpaceX.

The main NASA facilities that will remain are the shuttle launch pad 39B, plus various hangars for the Orion deep space capsule to be launched by NASA's heavy lift rocket, due to begin test flights in 2017.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Video: Spacewalk outside the International Space Station

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower