Do you have a lot of money, a huge backyard and a key interest in space memorabilia? You’re in luck! NASA recently announced they’re auctioning off their three mobile launch platforms. Now that NASA is moving forward with the Space Launch System, they’ll be modifying the launch pad created specifically for the Ares rocket, which was originally developed for a program to send people back to the moon. Out with the old and in with the new, eh?
So how big would your backyard need to be? The structures each weigh around 3,700 tons and are two stories tall. They’re essentially buildings all on their own, with plumbing and electrical cabling and the ability to vent rocket exhaust. I bet they smell pretty rank.
These are the same platforms used to launch the Apollo rockets, and were then modified for the upgraded space shuttles. They’re integral parts of American history, but that doesn’t mean they need to be discarded on the side of the road with that flower-patterned couch you finally forced yourself to get rid of. However, they’re much too big to fit inside your average museum, and while you’d expect these kinds of artifacts to end up somewhere as prestigious as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, that outcome is highly implausible.
“Although their historic value is without question, there is no practical way to physically move one of them to the DC area,” explains museum creator Paul Ceruzzi. I mean, we’ve seen the space shuttle Endeavor cross downtown traffic through California last year, but this is a different beast entirely. Ceruzzi says it’s possible one of the pads may end up placed beneath the unused Saturn V rocket on display at the Kennedy Space Center.
But it’s not like they’re completely useless or anything. They’re still functional. NASA is actually hoping that they’ll be reused by a private space organization. You hear that Elon Musk? SpaceX is currently bidding on accessing Kennedy’s launch complex 39A. Maybe they’d like to bid on the other two as well and complete the collection.
Barring that, NASA is also considering putting the platforms out on the water and turning them into artificial reefs or oil rigs, which would be pretty interesting.
But if worse comes to worse, the launch pads can always be disassembled and its parts recycled to be used for other pieces of equipment. But that should of course be the last resort. Well, the last resort would be to eat them, I guess.
Check out the compilation video below, which features several shuttle launches culled from IMAX presentations.