One of the launch pads used in the Apollo program will be turned to commercial activities by a private company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (- / AFP/Getty Images)
The same launch facility of some of the Apollo missions will soon be used by private company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) for commercial activities, according to NASA.
Under the 20-year agreement SpaceX will operate and maintain the facility – Pad 39A - at the Kennedy Space Center at its own expense while NASA will use a nearby launch pad for its deep space missions.
"It's exciting that this storied NASA launch pad is opening a new chapter for space exploration and the commercial aerospace industry," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The parallel pads at Kennedy perfectly exemplify NASA's parallel path for human spaceflight exploration -- U.S. commercial companies providing access to low-Earth orbit and NASA deep space exploration missions at the same time."
Pad 39A was first used to launch Apollo 4 on Nov. 9, 1967 and the launch pad was last used for the launch the space shuttle Atlantis for its final flight in 2011.
"SpaceX is the world’s fastest growing launch services provider," said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. "With nearly 50 missions on manifest, SpaceX will maximize the use of pad 39A to the benefit of both the commercial launch industry as well as the American taxpayer."