Saturday, August 27, 2011
Virginia Spaceport Hunkered Down by Storm
Hurricane Irene's eye is approaching the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pads where up to 2-feet of water is expected to wash over the island from the storm wind gusts of up to 75 mph, leaving severe flooding in its wake. NASA Wallops personnel and security guards will stay at the facility throughout the weekend to mitigate against any structural damage and to protect the launch facilities. "Tweets" from "Space Island."
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell noted that Hurricane Irene could become "the storm of a lifetime" in Hampton Roads due to storm surges and massive power outages. Mandatory evacuations (map) were being enforced in Accomack County, with the assistance of the Virginia State Police.
Next week, workers will return to the island to evaluate the storm's impact and resume the final phase of construction on a new launch pad for the Taurus-2 booster with the commercial Cygnus robotic cargo ship being built by the company Orbital Sciences Corporation. Cygnus will deliver supplies to the International Space Station beginning early next year.