Well, this is interesting. Space Florida is seeking $5 million from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to help SpaceX pay for upgrades to Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The move will be discussed during an online-only board meeting next Wednesday.
According to meeting documents, “project match funding” from FDOT would be used for “infrastructure improvements by SpaceX.”
The move would authorize Space Florida to enter into an agreement with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company.
Specifically, the meeting agenda says the $5 million is needed to help fund with Phase 2 of improvements to Pad 39A. It’s not clear exactly what these upgrades entail.
The timing of this move is interesting. It’s being done at a special meeting, which means the matter came up after — or wasn’t ready to be dealt with in time for — the last board meeting held only three weeks ago on Sept. 28. Nor does it seem the matter can wait until the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 29.
The apparent urgency of the request might well be related to the destruction of a Falcon 9 on Pad 40 last month. The launch complex was seriously damaged by the fire and explosion. It will be out of commission for an unknown number of months.
SpaceX officials say they could use Pad 39A as early as November to launch Falcon 9 rockets while the other launch complex is being repaired. The launcher’s return to flight depends upon an ongoing investigation into why a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded while it was being fueled on Sept. 1.
SpaceX’s is leasing Pad 39A from NASA and has renovated to handle Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches. The Falcon 9 launches will include Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station.