NASA announced Friday that it will lease its historic launch pad, the Launch Complex 39A, to SpaceX Technologies. Negotiations between the two parties are still ongoing.
The launch pad 39A is one of the two huge launch facilities that were designed for the Apollo launches in the 1960s. After the program, it was then modified to accommodate launches for other lunar mission spacecrafts and other satellites.
According to SPACE.com, the space agency had chosen between two privately owned spaceflight firms who had their own motivations in getting the Pad 39A lease contract—SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Space Exploration Technologies, owned by the billionaire Elon Musk, wants to exclusively lease the facilities for its own launches including NASA's resupply mission Dragon capsules and possibly for transport of the space agency's ISS astronauts.
During the selection process, Blue Origin had filed a petition to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The spaceflight company was claiming that NASA was favoring single-use of the launch pad which was designed as a multi-user facility.
The GAO decided on Thursday that the petition has no basis, which prompted NASA to proceed with its decision process. The next day, the space agency informed both companies that it is granting the exclusive lease to SpaceX.
Currently, NASA and SpaceX are preparing negotiations for the terms of the lease contract under closed doors. But to be sure, part of the responsibility of SpaceX as the lessee of the Launch Pad 39A is to effectively manage and run the facility in financial and technical respects. Meanwhile, NASA will still be allowed access for purposes of maintenance and preservation.
According to NASA, leasing the historic launch pad will be very favorable for the facility. "Permitting the use and operation of this valuable national asset by a private-sector, commercial space partner will ensure its continued viability and allow for its continued use in support of U.S. space activities."