For sale: NASA Launch Pad

Does anyone need a 15,000-foot landing strip? How about a place to assemble rocket ships? Or a parachute-packing plant? An array of aerospace tracking antennas? A launchpad?

Make us an offer, says NASA, which is quietly holding a going-out-of-business sale for the facilities used by its space-shuttle program.

  • Having grown up in south Florida and traveled back there over the years (twice for a geeky space competition I did in high school and then once during college for the launch of STS-109, on which a family friend was one of the mission specialists (side note: it ended up being the second-to-last mission for Columbia, with the next one, STS-107 (which was originally scheduled to come first) ending in disaster)), I saw Cape Canaveral on quite a few occasions. Despite being decently familiar with it, however, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) blew me away every single time I saw it.

    I still remember seeing it rise over the trees for my first time as the tour bus headed in its direction, with the tour guide casually mentioning that the giant building that looked so close was actually still over five miles away, and that the stripes on the American flag painted on its side were each as wide as a lane on a freeway. It just kept getting bigger and bigger as we approached, and I remember being continually amazed that we hadn’t yet reached it, since it looked SO close to us.

    And man, a space shuttle launch in person is nothing like what I’ve ever seen in video. They always had so many filters on the cameras that I never realized just how bright it was until I saw one up close for myself. Comparing it to the sun really is the proper comparison, since I could only open my eyes for a split second at a time when the shuttle was taking off. And despite the fact that the family seating section we were snuck into was a good mile or two away, the sound was utterly defeaning as well…the rumbling was easily comparable to what I remember of earthquakes from when I lived in Los Angeles. Plus, the gorgeous plume of purple and green smoke it left behind was something you never see in the typical footage, nor were the ensuing instructions for all of us to get in our vehicles immediately and evacuate the area since that plume was toxic and the wind was pushing it our way. 😉

  • And what has that got to do with any part of buying any part of NASA