It seems hard to believe, but Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is turning 50 this year. Most of the infrastructure was constructed in the 1960s – the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the launch pads, the crawler transporters, etc. Most of it for the Apollo program, some of it for the even earlier Mercury & Gemini programs. Some of the infrastructure was constructed later, for the Shuttle program, but that still dates from the seventies and early eighties.
Now that we’re moving on to the Space Launch System (SLS) and commercial cargo and crew operations KSC is getting a major makeover. The VAB is practically being rebuilt from the inside out with the removal of massive structures from the high bays, originally installed to work on the Saturn V. And removing miles of copper cables that were state of the art at the time, and are now replaceable with a single fiber optic line strand. The VAB is being redesigned to handle multiple vehicles, to provide flexibility. In addition to handling the SLS it may be processing ATK’s Liberty launch vehicle, or possibly manned versions of the Atlas V or Delta IV depending on what is decided for processing those. (It probably won’t be processing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 as they have their own facilities already.)
Orbiter Processing Facility 3 (OPF 3), used to process Space Shuttles, is being refurbished for use by Boeing in producing their CST-100 capsule – presuming it does go into production of course. It remains to be seen if NASA will select it for the Commercial Crew Program, and, if not, if Boeing will produce it for the commercial market anyway.
This first video takes a look back at the 50 years of KSC’s history, I love the brief look at the shuttle concepts at the three minute mark:
And this video takes a look at the changes coming to KSC to support the next 50 years and some of the history happening right now: