Nasa's Lunar Prospector moon reconnaissance orbiter should be the first spacecraft to be launched from Spaceport Florida's new $8million pad at Cape Canaveral this September, a spokesman said at the Show yesterday.

Spaceport Florida is a state agency created to boost commercial space enterprises in the state.

It will charge customers $300,000 a launch to use the refurbished former Trident 2 missile pad 46 at the Cape. Unlike other pads which are used exclusively by specific vehicles, this former US Air Force pad can be used by several types of small launcher.

The Lunar Prospector will be launched by the first Lockheed Martin Launch Vehicle 2.

Other potential users include Orbital Sciences, which will fly its Taurus booster, Alliant Techsystems which is proposing a small satellite launcher - and the USAF, which may use the pad to launch derivatives of the Minuteman missile.

"Once these vehicles prove themselves, we're pretty confident that the customers who are waiting in the wings to book flights will come forward," says company director Edward Ellegood.

Spaceport Florida has been issued a license from the Commercial Space Transportation to operate a second pad at the Cape.

This will offer a "quick response" service to commercial customers who need to launch satellites quickly to monitor solar flares, natural disasters and replacement communication craft for mobile satellite systems.

Source: Flight Daily News