CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The last time NASA built a new launch pad was in the 1960s, but Friday morning officials unveiled a new pad designed to launch small rockets and payloads. It's called Launch Pad 39C.
"This is what a commercial launch site for a small class launcher needs to look like," said Scott Colloredo with NASA. "It's lean, it's mean, it's clean."
NASA officials said the demand for a smaller class pad is there because it gives launch providers a better and more affordable chance to break into the commercial space flight market. In fact, more than ten companies have shown interest in the new pad and a handful have actually come out to tour it, according to officials.
"It's safe to say that somebody will want to use this pad and we will have an agreement to do that," said Colloredo.
Colloredo says the $900,000 concrete pad will launch rockets in the 1,000-pound range.
Its big brother and next door neighbor, Launch Pad 39B, can handle a lot more than that. It's designed to launch the heaviest of rockets, like the Space Launch System, which will take the Orion spacecraft into orbit.
"We're proud of that and it gets our foot in the door in the post-shuttle era for human space flight," said Colloredo.
Pad 39C is the latest of four pads currently under construction at Kennedy Space Center, which are all designed for human space flight.
While NASA officials are excited about where they are today, they say the work is far from over.
Pad 39C could be ready for launches by late 2016.