Author Topic: SpaceX wants NASA’s LC-49 for Starship Super Heavy launches  (Read 67433 times)

Offline su27k

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https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-conducts-environmental-assessment-practices-responsible-growth

NASA released the above info.

Articles:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2021/12/starship-lc-49-ksc/


https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1471868635748700168

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https://spaceexplored.com/2021/12/15/spacex-wants-nasas-lc-49-for-starship-super-heavy-launches/
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SpaceX has reached out to NASA to conduct an environmental assessment for Starship Super Heavy launches out of Launch Complex 49 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The proposed launch site, LC-49, is north of NASA’s LC-39B, and is meant to support Starship launches and landings.

“LC-49 has been a part of Kennedy’s master plan for several years,” said Tom Engler, Kennedy’s director of Center Planning and Development. “The Notice of Availability was updated in 2014.”

The environmental assessment is an important first step to determine whether this launch site can be developed for Starship.


Description of LC-49 from KSC Master Plan:
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Future Development - In keeping with previous recommendations from the 1966, ‘72 and ‘77 KSC Master Plan’s, when the market demands an expansion of vertical launch capacity this Plan recommends an additional vertical launch pad, Launch Complex 49 (LC-49), to be sited to the north of existing 39B.  As part of the EIS process, this area was consolidated from two pads (formerly designated as 39-C and 39-D) to one that provides greater separation from LC-39B.  The area was expanded to accommodate a wider variety of launch azimuths, helping protect against potential overflight concerns of LC-39B.  LC-49 could accommodate medium to large class launch vehicles.


Also in 2018 Blue Origin is said to be looking at LC-49 for New Armstrong according to this NSF article:
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Blue Origin is currently talking with NASA about constructing a new, large launch facility for their New Armstrong rocket north of 39B, where the original Pad 39C would have been located. This new facility, if built, would be named Launch Complex 49. The Environmental Impact Study for the planned launch site is currently underway.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2021 02:48 pm by Chris Bergin »

Offline harrystranger

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Offline Lars-J

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It would sense to leave 39A as a dedicated F9/H pad until Starship has proven itself to be capable of replacing F9/H for NASA and DoD use. It would reduce risk to surrounding equipment during the early Starship flights.

And since the SS/SH infrastructure is going to be scratch-built anyway, why not build it at a new area?

But perhaps that is not what SpaceX is planning - if the article is correct.

Offline Hamish.Student

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Is the Environmental Assessment the same one as the FAA may require for Boca? Or does NASA have its own process? This is all legislated by NEPA I believe? Australian, so not up to speed on exactly how the process goes in America. Just curious as to a timeline for this launch site, would 3-4 years sound right? ~2 years for environmental reviews and the inevitable lawsuit from BO because they want LC-49, then 1-2 years for construction and commissioning activities. Am I far off the mark here?     
 
It will certainly be very interesting to follow along with this and see what improvements SpaceX make after their experience building out the pad at Boca. One last question, would the works be performed by NASA or SpaceX? As in, will NASA build the pad and then lease it (Such as 39A) or will SpaceX lease the site empty and build it out themselves. I assume it will be the latter?
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 06:59 am by Hamish.Student »

Offline woods170

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It would sense to leave 39A as a dedicated F9/H pad until Starship has proven itself to be capable of replacing F9/H for NASA and DoD use. It would reduce risk to surrounding equipment during the early Starship flights.

And since the SS/SH infrastructure is going to be scratch-built anyway, why not build it at a new area?

But perhaps that is not what SpaceX is planning - if the article is correct.

There is going to be multiple Starship launch sites at the Cape. Elon mentioned, just a few days ago on Twitter, that construction of the first Starship launchpad at LC-39A has (re)started.
SpaceX is interested in building a second one at LC-49.

Offline edzieba

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Is the Environmental Assessment the same one as the FAA may require for Boca? Or does NASA have its own process? This is all legislated by NEPA I believe?
Yes, NEPA is the regulation federal agencies must abide by (short version: before taking an official action, an environmental assessment must be performed to determine the environmental impact). NASA would have to abide by NEPA for the land use modifications to build the pad, as would the FAA before issuing a launch license (though they would be referencing the assessment previously conducted for launch site construction, so only assessing the impacts of the launch itself, unlike the recent PEA for Boca Chica). Other federal and local agencies would also be involved in the assessment (e.g. USFWS) as with Boca Chica.
Or SpaceX may push to do everything at the same time, so would be conducting an assessment to suit both NASA and the FAA. The actual assessment would likely be 'easier' than Boca Chica, as public access is not at stake (space coast beaches are regularly closed and there is not public access enshrined in state legislation, and nobody lives on or near the site) and launches are a regular occurrence in the area rather than a new addition.
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Australian, so not up to speed on exactly how the process goes in America. Just curious as to a timeline for this launch site, would 3-4 years sound right? ~2 years for environmental reviews and the inevitable lawsuit from BO because they want LC-49, then 1-2 years for construction and commissioning activities. Am I far off the mark here?
As with Boca Chica, SpaceX and NASA could agree to start construction prior to completion of an EA, at SpaceX's risk. It could be argued that by allowing SpaceX to start works, NASA would be performing an action and be subject to NEPA beforehand, though, so it may not be that simple. Some works at LC-49 were already approved via a previous EA, so an argument could be made that works similar in scale and impact could be performed prior to completion of a new EA.
SpaceX's SLC-40 EA process appeared to complete in around 1 year from submission of application (submitted 2006, FONSI 2007), with the actual assessment - by a contractor hired by SpaceX at that time, though today would likely be by SpaceX themselves - starting preparation work prior to then (one appendix item dated 2003)). We do not know how much prep work has already been undergone for LC-49 specifically, but plenty of modelling has already been undergone for LC-39A and BC, so that can be re-used when applicable.
Whilst the 'original LC-39A' (then LC-39C, then never built) assumed a Nova-class launch vehicle comparable to SS/SH, that was over half a century ago and was never completed, so LC-49 is closer to a new pad than the modified-for-a-smaller-vehicle pads at LC-39A and SLC-40, so impact from construction is a far greater item in the EA than for those prior EAs. 1-2 years would not be unlikely. If construction occurs in parallel, the site could well be ready by the time assessment is completed. Boca Chica pad readyness seems to be in a very close race with EA completion, and that included more "learning how to build the pad" that hopefully will not need to be undertaken again for LC-49 unless the pad design is radically changed, despite a hopefully shorter EA process.
 
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It will certainly be very interesting to follow along with this and see what improvements SpaceX make after their experience building out the pad at Boca. One last question, would the works be performed by NASA or SpaceX? As in, will NASA build the pad and then lease it (Such as 39A) or will SpaceX lease the site empty and build it out themselves. I assume it will be the latter?
NASA would hire a contractor for construction for any baseline works (e.g. roads, pipelines, etc that connect to NASA infrastructure), so making that contractor SpaceX would certainly simplify things. Actual pad works would be under SpaceX, as the modifications to LC-39A and SLC-40 were.

Offline Rocket Surgeon

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So whats a rough ETA for when LC-49 will be up and running?

LC-39A will probably be the priority in Florida, as LC-49 will need an Enviromental Assessment due to being a new site, as well as general site preparation. However, due to that, all the equipment needed to build the parts will be in place and ready to go from the construction at LC-39A.

Soooo, I'm gonna give it 2.5 years (+/- 0.5 years) from now. Roughly 1 years to do the assessment, 0.5 years for site preparation and another year for construction.

Offline Robotbeat

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Having plans to do Nova launches half a century ago does help. These NEPA studies are heavily biased toward things which are grandfathered in.

Also, gives them options in case there’s lots of pushback against Boca Chica. And therefore leverage in negotiations. Do people really think it’s in the Brownsville Area’s interest for SpaceX to abandon efforts to launch Starship in Texas?
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 12:40 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Rocket Surgeon

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Having plans to do Nova launches half a century ago does help. These NEPA studies are heavily biased toward things which are grandfathered in.

Also, gives them options in case there’s lots of pushback against Boca Chica. And therefore leverage in negotiations. Do people really think it’s in the Brownsville Area’s interest for SpaceX to abandon efforts to launch Starship in Texas?

Maybe? Boca Chica is REALLY close to some built up area... if every launch there is loads of damage from vibrations, like windows being shattered, the negatives will very quickly out way the positives.

Boca Chica may very well end of being a produciton and testing facility, with the final products being shipped, one way or another, to other launch pads (read: flow to launch rigs in the Gulf)

Offline edzieba

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Having plans to do Nova launches half a century ago does help. These NEPA studies are heavily biased toward things which are grandfathered in.
While the original plans for Launch Complex 39 were to accommodate Nova specifications, that doesn't help SpaceX AS much in this specific case:
- The pad was never built
- Nova was never built
- The work was assessed long before NEPA existed (or most environmental regulations, for that matter)
- Subsequent works (e.g. SLF) have been added afterwards nearby
- Subsequent community development has moved closer to the launch complex and greatly grown in population.

Offline Robotbeat

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Having plans to do Nova launches half a century ago does help. These NEPA studies are heavily biased toward things which are grandfathered in.

Also, gives them options in case there’s lots of pushback against Boca Chica. And therefore leverage in negotiations. Do people really think it’s in the Brownsville Area’s interest for SpaceX to abandon efforts to launch Starship in Texas?

Maybe? Boca Chica is REALLY close to some built up area... if every launch there is loads of damage from vibrations, like windows being shattered, the negatives will very quickly out way the positives.

Boca Chica may very well end of being a produciton and testing facility, with the final products being shipped, one way or another, to other launch pads (read: flow to launch rigs in the Gulf)
Not a chance! There really aren’t that many houses close by.

SpaceX can provide literally thousands of well paying jobs, with a total financial impact multiple times that in an area that is super poor compared to the rest of the country.

SpaceX leaving would be absolutely devastating to the area. I think a lot of folks objecting to it underestimate what that impact would be.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Robotbeat

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Having plans to do Nova launches half a century ago does help. These NEPA studies are heavily biased toward things which are grandfathered in.

Also, gives them options in case there’s lots of pushback against Boca Chica. And therefore leverage in negotiations. Do people really think it’s in the Brownsville Area’s interest for SpaceX to abandon efforts to launch Starship in Texas?



Boca Chica may very well end of being a produciton and testing facility, with the final products being shipped, one way or another, to other launch pads (read: flow to launch rigs in the Gulf)
No. if SpaceX can’t launch starship from Boca Chica, they WILL leave. There’s no reason for them to setup a production facility far from major cities if they can’t launch. A community so hostile they won’t even let them launch is no place to set up operations, particularly since there is no large aerospace presence in that area.

People pushing to shut down launching from Boca Chica are fighting against economic development in a region that desperately needs it.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 02:24 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline mandrewa

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Maybe? Boca Chica is REALLY close to some built up area... if every launch there is loads of damage from vibrations, like windows being shattered, the negatives will very quickly out way the positives.

South Padre Island is the closest built-up area to the Starbase launch pad.  We don't really know enough about methalox rocket explosions to say whether South Padre Island's windows are at risk of breaking.  In the optimistic case the explosions we have already seen are close to the worst detonation case and that would mean the windows are not threatened at all.

South Padre Island's chamber of commerce seems to be counting on these Starship launches occurring.  If you go to South Padre Island's website, South Padre Island is being advertised as the place to be to watch Starship launches.

If Boca Chica is unacceptable then that's basically the same as saying the entire eastern coast of the United States is unacceptable for Starship class rocket launches.

Edit: Yes, kdhilliard.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 03:22 pm by mandrewa »

Offline alugobi

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BO apparently likes pad 49, too.  Are they competing to lease that property?  Does NASA have to decide between the two? 

Stand by for more lawsuits.

Offline kevinof

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Liking and having something to launch within a reasonable time frame at very different. BO had some interest in it for New Armstrong which doesn’t exist yet and won’t (if it really is a big booster) for many many years.


 
BO apparently likes pad 49, too.  Are they competing to lease that property?  Does NASA have to decide between the two? 

Stand by for more lawsuits.

Offline baking

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BO apparently likes pad 49, too.  Are they competing to lease that property?  Does NASA have to decide between the two? 

Stand by for more lawsuits.
They wanted it for New Armstrong, a rocket that only ever existed in name only and has been superseded by other plans.

But you are not wrong about the lawsuits.

Online Thorny

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- Subsequent community development has moved closer to the launch complex and greatly grown in population.

I'm not sure that's true. The closest community is still Titusville (which is bounded by the Indian River and can't get any closer to KSC), and the LC-49 site is even farther from Titusville than LC-39. This will be a major hindrance to Playalinda Beach access for the Titusville crowd, but LC-49 is pretty remote. I think the environmentalists worried about Canaveral National Seashore will be a much bigger issue.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 05:14 pm by Thorny »

Offline RedLineTrain

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Some years ago, it was determined (perhaps by then-Senator Nelson) that anything North of State Road 402, as the originally-planned 39D would have been, would be politically untenable.  It seemed assumed that anything South of that would be politically acceptable.  I guess we will see whether that is so.

He lost his last election in Florida, but perhaps Nelson being the person in charge and taking a special interest here may be helpful in avoiding the political minefields.

Note:  We have a few old threads/articles on NSF about this.  Might be worthwhile to search for those and link them in the OP.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 06:11 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline wannamoonbase

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- Subsequent community development has moved closer to the launch complex and greatly grown in population.

I'm not sure that's true. The closest community is still Titusville (which is bounded by the Indian River and can't get any closer to KSC), and the LC-49 site is even farther from Titusville than LC-39. This will be a major hindrance to Playalinda Beach access for the Titusville crowd, but LC-49 is pretty remote. I think the environmentalists worried about Canaveral National Seashore will be a much bigger issue.

I use to live in Cape Canaveral and drove to Playalinda several times.  That area north of 39B is very dense with wild life.  Environmental approval would be the hardest part by far.
Wildly optimistic prediction, Superheavy recovery on IFT-4 or IFT-5

Offline Zed_Noir

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..... I think the environmentalists worried about Canaveral National Seashore will be a much bigger issue.

I use to live in Cape Canaveral and drove to Playalinda several times.  That area north of 39B is very dense with wild life.  Environmental approval would be the hardest part by far.


However all community developments other than the LC-49 pad itself is effectively stop in that area and remain undeveloped probably until the Kennedy Space Center is retired. The environmentalists should be overjoyed at that possible outcome without having to do anything themselves.


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