NASA's space shuttle program may be holding a going-out-of-business sale.
On July 20, 2011, at 5:57 a.m. EDT, the space shuttle Atlantis made its final touchdown on the runway of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA's storied shuttle program wasn't the only thing that came to its official end that day; the intervening year-and-a-half has also seen the slow obsolescence of the tools that allowed the program to be what it was: the rocket launch pads and the equipment hangers and the buildings of Cape Canaveral.
Now, it seems, those items -- those relics of a program past -- will be slowly sold off. Or, perhaps, rented off. NASA, the Orlando Sentinel reports, has been advertising -- quietly -- a long inventory of the facilities and equipment at the Kennedy Space Center, "listing them as available for use, lease or, in some cases, outright purchase by the right business."
Among the items in that inventory:
• launchpad 39A, where shuttles were launched;
• space in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the 526-foot-tall structure first used to assemble Saturn V-Apollo rockets;
• Orbiter Processing Facilities -- essentially large garages where shuttles were once maintained;
• Hangar N (including its high-tech test equipment);
• the launch-control center;
• a 15,000-foot landing strip;
• a parachute-packing plant;
• an array of aerospace tracking antennas;
• and various other buildings and sections of undeveloped property.