Mobile service tower surrounding Falcon Heavy booster. (Credit: SpaceX)
by Douglas MessierManaging Editor
SpaceX would be launching up to 70 times annually from Florida by 2023, including polar orbit launches that are not currently conducted from the Sunshine State.
Elon Musk’s rocket company is also planning to construct a mobile service tower (MST) to support commercial and national security launches from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The tower would allow for vertical integration of payloads onto SpaceX’s boosters. Currently, payloads are integrated with the boosters in a horizontal position. National security launches require vertical payload integration.
The details are included in a draft environmental assessment (EA) made public by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week. The new EA is required because of the higher launch and booster landing rates, polar orbit flights that will have boosters flying to the south, and physical changes needed at Pad 39A. (Read Draft EA)
The document forecasts a large ramp up in the number of launches SpaceX’s launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center and the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
From 11 launches last year, SpaceX forecasts conducting 38 flights this year. That number ...