Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are two of the most important people in the private spaceflight field, and now it looks like they’ll be going head-to-head in a battle for a launch pad of NASA’s famous Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Amazon CEO and Tesla Motors CEO are the heads of private space firms Blue Origin and SpaceX. The site is of the first and last space shuttle launches and other significant events in NASA history. NASA considers the space surplus and wants to sell it to a private company in an effort to save money.
It would be a key acquisition for either Bezos’ Blue Origin or Musk’s SpaceX, and SpaceX already has two launchpads under its control and are going for a third.
Blue Origin, on the other hand, has dealt with some difficulties in recent years — the company hasn’t yet put a ship in orbit and suffered a serious setback after a prototype spacecraft crashed in August of 2011. Compared to SpaceX, Blue Origin has been relatively quiet since being founded in September of 2000. The company just invited a journalist to its facilities for the first time and used it as a way to spread the word about its ambitions for NASA’s facility.
The company is hoping to use the launchpad as a multi-use facility and let other companies launch from it for a fee. However, for those plans to take shape, Bezos will have to find a way to outmaneuver SpaceX, which wants the facility to launch its Dragon space capsule. While details surrounding the bids to take over launchpad 39A are shrouded in secrecy, NASA wants to complete the handoff by October 1st — so we should hear the outcome sooner rather than later.
This should be an interesting battle to watch, especially since the private sector is about to make history all over again.