NASA plans to build ground infrastructure to process the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket that the agency plans to launch in 2018 for an unmanned deep-space exploration.
The initiative comes after NASA engineers and aerospace specialists completed a comprehensive assessment on proposed spaceport development at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, the agency said Monday.
An engineering team will work to transform Kennedy facilities and ground systems that will be used to integrate Orion and SLS as well as to transfer the vehicles to a pad and launch them, according to NASA.
“Modernizing the ground systems for our journey to Mars also ensures long-term sustainability and affordability to meet future needs of the multi-use spaceport,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator of NASA's exploration systems development division.
Boeing is helping the agency build SLS to launch the spacecraft as part of Exploration Mission-1.
The agency indicated it will stack the heavy-lift rocket on a mobile launcher in the center’s vehicle assembly building and roll the vehicle out to launch pad 39B with a modified crawler transporter.