NASA wants to rent out parts of the John F. Kennedy Space Center that it can't afford to keep, according to space officials.
"I have a lot of facilities that we, NASA, no longer need," the center's director, Robert Cabana, told the Washington Post. "I don't have the money to maintain them, I don't have the money to tear them down. They're just going to sit and rot."
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The solution Kennedy's management has settled on is to seek commercial tenants for large sections of the historic spaceport, which turns 50 this year.
Available to rent, according to the Post:
"A space shuttle launchpad, slightly used; a giant crawler for moving rockets, still servicable; two enormous mobile launch platforms; two space shuttle maintenance hangars; a 15,000-foot concrete runway, one of the world's longest; and the blocky, 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building, with four soaring rocket assembly bays — and no waiting."
At its peak, the Kennedy Space Center once employed 18,000 people; now it has just 7,500 workers. Its directors hope the site will one day be the base from which private companies, with the government's financial help, one day build and launch manned space craft.
NASA's decision to rent out the facility is "only the latest symbol of the vanishing of its glory days made most obvious by the mothballing of its shuttle fleet last year," wrote The Independent.
Astronaut John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth 50 years ago this week, recently expressed his regret that the shuttle program had ended.
"We spent over $100 billion dollars putting the space station up there," he remarked at an anniversary event Saturday. "It's too bad in the previous administration the decision was made to end the shuttle, so now we have to go somewhere else to even get up to our station."
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