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WASHINGTON, January 3 (RIA Novosti) - Now that the US space shuttle program is defunct, NASA is leasing and selling some of its facilities and equipment at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to private companies and entrepreneurs.
Among the items being sold, according to the Orlando Sentinel: Launch Pad 39A, where shuttles blasted off into space, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the launch control center, a parachute-packing plant, and the world’s longest runway, a 15,000 foot (4,572 meter) landing strip.
The last shuttle space flight ended in July 2011, when Atlantis landed back on Earth.That shuttle and its sisters, Discovery and Endeavour are now in museums, but there is quite a bit of equipment used in the shuttle program that NASA needs to unload by the end of 2013, when federal money to maintain the equipment runs out, the Sentinel reported.
After that some of the equipment will start to rust and buildings will begin to deteriorate.
“The facilities out here can’t be in an abandoned state for long before they become unusable. So we’re in a big push over the next few months to either have agreements for these facilities or not,” Joyce Riquelme, the Kennedy Space Center director of planning and development told the Sentinel.
Space Florida, a public-private space agency, has made proposals for some of the facilities. President Frank DiBello told the Sentinel the value of the goods will be set by the marketplace and whether there is an economically viable future for commercial space ventures.
Some of the shuttle facilities are already being used, according to WESH-TV in Orlando. NASCAR is renting the space shuttle runway to test race cars, and Boeing is leasing space in a shuttle hangar to build a commercial spaceship.
The process of selling off the space shuttle equipment is mostly secret, the Sentinel reported, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, so competitors and the public won’t know what is going on.
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