NASA has published a plan submitted by SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, to dramatically expand its presence at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The agency published a draft environmental review for a proposed SpaceX Operations Area on a 67-acre patch of land about one mile north of KSC’s visitor center complex.
Space reporter James Dean first wrote about the plan in a story published Friday at Florida Today.
In 2018, SpaceX hopes to pull off 30 orbital launches — a record number of missions for a country, let alone a company. Most of the launches will use Falcon 9 rockets, though a couple will be missions using Falcon Heavy: the most powerful rocket system in use today.
But SpaceX is just getting started.
“As SpaceX’s launch cadence and manifest for missions from Florida continues to grow, we are seeking to expand our capabilities and streamline operations to launch, land and re-fly our Falcon family of rockets,” SpaceX representative James Gleeson told Business Insider in an email.
According to future launch plans outlined by the NASA document, SpaceX thinks it may need to support up to 54 launches of Falcon 9, about 10 launches of Falcon Heavy every year, and the recovery of various reusable rocket parts in the coming years.
Launching as many as 64 rockets is more than double SpaceX’s launch goals for this year.
“The purpose of this action is to develop a site that supports … SpaceX in its pursuit of a complete local, efficient, and reusable launch vehicle program,” the document said.
What SpaceX wants to build in Florida and why
A rendering of SpaceX’s proposed 133,000-square-foot Falcon hangar.NASA
To meet its record-setting launch pace, SpaceX says it needs more space and facilities.
The company wants to build a futuristic, alien-head-like control center tower to help it monitor launches and landings. The tower may stretch 300 feet high, according to the plans.
SpaceX is also seeking permission to build a 133,000-square-foot Falcon hangar to process used boosters and rocket nosecones, or fairings, that it recovers. The parts would be reused for future launches, saving many millions of dollars per launch.
The company also wants to build what’s called a “rocket garden” to show off what it considers historic space vehicles, such as used Falcon boosters and Dragon spaceships.
SpaceX has built several Dragon ships for NASA to launch cargo to the International Space Station, but it’s also working on a Crew Dragon ship to launch astronauts— ideally before the end of the year.
The proposed plan for Florida comes shortly after SpaceX raised $507 million and gained approval to construct an enormous factory at the Port of Los Angeles. The California facility will build Big Falcon Rockets, which are designed to be completely reusable and send 100 people and 150 tons of cargo to Mars.
The map below shows the rough location of the proposed SpaceX Operations Area:
And this map details the exact footprint for the collection of facilities — plus dozens of acres of land for future ones:
The public has a month to comment on the proposal.
For a more complete look at what the plans entail, read Florida Today’s story.