Wednesday, May 27, 2009
New Launch Pad Construction Set to Begin at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in VA
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is set to commence work on a new launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport this summer enabling up to four to six launches a year from Wallops Island, Va. in years to come beginning with the Orbital Science Corp.'s Taurus II rocket. An official groundbreaking is expected to draw several federal and state political leaders from Virginia and Maryland with the exact date to be announced soon.
The Taurus II rocket will weigh 640,000 pounds, stretch 133 feet long and have a 13-foot diameter. Other improvements, in addition to the launch pad, being made to the spaceport in preparation for the planned demonstration launch of Taurus II in December 2010 include building a horizontal integration facility where the rocket will be built and tested.
A dock facility is in-the-works to enable the first rocket stage to the spaceport by barge from Newport News after it arrives there from the Ukraine, where it is being built. Some testing and assembly of the rocket will be done by a team from the Ukraine meaning 30 to 50 Ukrainian workers at a time will be at Wallops during the lead-up to launches. MORE from Delmava Media.
The Taurus II rocket will have the capability of not only launching re-supply missions to the International Space Station in 2011 but also boosting robotic missions to the moon; and, perhaps gain astronaut-rating following evidence of high reliability. The Orbital Sciences Corporation booster will be in direct competition with the SpaceX Falcon 9 set to be launched from Cape Canaveral.