The space shuttles are all nestled in their retirement homes, but NASA still has plenty of equipment, buildings and other infrastructure left over from their 30-year run. The space agency is quietly trying to sell it or lease it, and in some cases by the end of this year.
The last shuttle mission ended a year and a half ago now, and the final pieces of cleanup and mothballing are just about done down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There is enough federal money to finish those tasks and perform maintenance this year, but the money runs out at the end of 2013, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which has been tracking NASA’s garage sale efforts. After the funds dry up, the steel and concrete buildings will almost certainly start to rust in the humid, salty climate of Florida’s Space Coast.
Some commercial partners already have deals with the space agency to use its facilities. Boeing is refurbishing one of the Orbiter Processing Facilities for its CST-100 space transport capsule, which could eventually ferry up to seven astronauts to the space station. And SpaceX has already used the launch facilities at KSC.
But there’s plenty left, from the huge shuttle landing strips and rollout paths to the parachute-packing plants. Some of these may be more attractive than others–as the advocacy group Space Florida told the Sentinel, companies might want to build their own launch facilities. Still, there’s plenty of infrastructure just waiting for someone to want it.
Check out our gallery to see some of the assets NASA is hoping to offer to the next generation of space explorers.