The shuttle program is dead. That's sad. But the parts that made up the shuttle program have morphed into one massively absurd estate sale, the likes of which hoarders have only ever dreamed of. And that's absolutely wonderful.
You'll soon be able to bid on one of the three genuine, 3733-tonne launch platforms that shot all of our wildest hopes in dreams into the great beyond -- shipping not included.
What you'll be getting (should you have the cash and magical means of transportation lying around) is an 8m tall, 50m x 40m Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) originally built in 1967 for the Apollo and Saturn missions and later modified to support the Space Shuttle. Of course, the "mobile" portion of the MLPs name is contingent on the 5500hp transporters (shown below), which were what allowed that little sucker to zip along at a speedy 1.6km/h -- and which NASA ain't giving up.
So just like any other good Craigslist ad, if you want it, you're going need to figure out how to get it back home. Whoever does end up buying the MLPs will need to have them entirely disassembled, packaged and shipped from Florida on their own dime. As Tracy Young, a NASA public affairs officer, told WIRED in what was, hopefully for their sake, not an official sales pitch, "People should have a way of dismantling them." Enticing.
In addition to a means of transportation you'll also be lacking pretty much anything that was actually used for launch -- fire surpression systems, emergency warning beacons, monitoring systems, water lines, and the Integrated Network Control Systems. So what do you get? The platform itself, hydraulic and ventilation lines, a smattering of electronics, and best of all -- bathrooms! Specifically, as noted in documents acquired by WIRED, on-board bathrooms that include two sinks, two toilets, two urinals, and a drain. But not just any drain -- the most expensive drain. Because while we don't know for sure what kind of funds the auction will end up bringing in, NASA bought the platforms for $US234 million. So suffice it to say, you can't afford it.
Still, if you one throw your hat in the ring with the other (presumably) eccentric billionaires, you can fill out an application stating why you want an MLP of your very own; NASA will be looking at uses both traditional (you listening, Musk?) and non-traditional (wildly expensive pay-to-use bathroom). So if you think you'd like to try your hand at the world's most daunting IKEA project, you have until September 6. Godspeed. [Wired, The Telegraph]