NASA Garage Sale… Come and take the old junk..!
- By Damon Lavrinc
- 9:30 AM
Space pioneers, super villains, and delusional architects, get your checkbooks ready. NASA is putting its Mobile Launcher Platforms up for sale, and if you’ve got the cash and a business case, you can snag one of three 4,115-ton space shuttle platforms. But you won’t be able to drive it home.
Built in 1967, the trio of MLPs were designed for the Apollo and Saturn programs, and then modified in the ’70s to support the Space Shuttle. The platforms stand 25 feet tall and measure 160 by 135 feet, with an unladen weight of 8,230,000 pounds. Add on an unfueled Shuttle, and it tops 11 million pounds.
But there’s a problem.
NASA is only selling the platforms, not the 5,500-horsepower transporter that crawls along the tracks at 1 mile per hour. That means that whoever buys the MLPs will need to have it completely disassembled, packaged, and shipped from Florida. And no, the space agency won’t help.
“NASA would not move [the MLPs] for them,” says Tracy Young, a NASA public affairs officer speaking with WIRED. “People should have a way of dismantling them.”
Additionally, each MLP has been stripped of nearly everything you’d need to launch, including the fire suppression systems, emergency warning beacons, monitoring systems, water lines, and the Integrated Network Control Systems (INCS). So basically, you’re getting a hunk of metal with a few winches, some hydraulic and ventilation lines, some electronics, and — according to documents acquired by WIRED — a “bathroom with two sinks, two toilets, two urinals and one drain.”
However, NASA expects that commercial firms, other governmental agencies, or even an individual would be interested in purchasing the MLPs, and could retrofit them for other applications. It’s more likely that Elon Musk’s Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have them at the top of their Wish Lists, but NASA is accepting all Requests for Information proposals.
“We’re looking for a synopsis of the traditional and non-traditional uses [of the MLPs],” says Young. And those include proposals from the public. So if you’re interested in owning the platform that was built to transport and launch the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo lunar landing program, get your application in now before the September 6 deadline.