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Monday, October 29, 2012

Severe Weather Stops Work @Wallops Island

Antares 1st stage booster sits on the launch pad at Wallops Island. Credit AP
HURRICANE SANDY ALERT! - The test article Antares rocket sits on the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia facing what will be  possible gusts of wind of up to 70 mph and downpour of rain ranging from 5" to 10" inches along the Delmarva Peninsula Monday, October 29, 2012. Live Tweets from the 'space island.'

The Eastern Shore severe weather will inevitably result in work delays for the next 72-hours or more from the flooding and power outages for many of the hundreds employed by NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Orbital Sciences Corporation.  Orbital is  preparing the Antares-Cygnus missions, the second commercial launch vehicle to carry cargo to the International Space Station.
In many ways, it is like a repeat drill but this time with rocket boosters set to fly to the International Space Station next year in the Horizontal Integration Facility a few hundred feet from the shoreline and a first stage booster strapped to a new launch pad within 100' of the raging water.

The launch pad, liquid fuel facilities, and other hardware facilities were designed to withstand severe ocean side saltwater blasts, potential flooding and high winds. Nonetheless, there is little comfort in knowing that the best work is about to be tested by nature's reality. Moreover, the safety of the talented people, and their families, associated with the facility and programs are of primary concern.

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