NASA is well known for its heavy class and super-heavy class space launch systems, but soon it will be the center for much a smaller class of rockets.
NASA is currently in the process of building a new launchpad, 39C, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, adjacent to 39B, to accommodate “Small Class Vehicles” (SCVs), such as the tiny cube-like satellites IndustryTap reported on in Electric Space Sails nearly two years ago.
The creation of 39C is taking place as NASA also renovates Launch Complex 39B and its former space shuttle launch pads to accommodate the huge rockets associated with the SLS program.
According to NASA’s Small Class Vehicle Element Operations manager, Jerad Merbitz, in addition to serving NASA’s interests in SCVs “the small class market is looking for new capabilities, and we’ve talked to a number of companies showing some interest in Kennedy and the new launch site.”
39C will provide a range of services and capabilities including small class launch systems, a Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), new launch mounts, flame deflectors, and propellant servicing systems, according to NASA.
With new technological capabilities there is now a rush to participate in burgeoning commercial space market that promises to be huge, but which can still be prohibitively expensive. The new small class market will allow an unprecedented level of experimentation at a fraction of the cost of traditional larger launch systems.
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