NASA Has finished work on a new launchpad at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida – Launch Complex 48 (LC-48), a pad that supports smaller launch vehicles than the LC-39A or B or SLC-41 Enabled, which currently hosts SpaceX, SLS and ULA respectively. It is designed to be used by many providers, with the absence of permanent structures that allow for flexible configurations based on how it is used.
According to KSC Senior Project Manager Keith Britton, “LC, 48 aims to meet the need for new, low-cost launch systems with very fast turnaround cycles” NASASpaceflight.com. It seems a bit odd, as some of the upcoming launch models are being developed and tested by companies including Astra, a small launcher that designed its business around the now-ended DARPA competition for a responsive launch performance Have done
While companies such as Virgin Orbit are aiming to build responsive, mobile launch capabilities by reducing the need for a specialized pad when they are in the minority in terms of meeting the need for vertical take-off for small launch startups. Many more companies, including Astra, as well as Firefly, Orbex and the newly revived Vector Launch, are focusing on smaller rockets that launched with scale-down requirements in terms of both the infrastructure needed on site to add flexibility and mobility. can go. Their model.
The LC-48 does not yet have an actual customer – NASA says it is in discussions with several companies, but does not yet have an officially signed customer. However, the agency anticipates some launches to be launched from the new pad early next year.