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Saturday, May 14, 2011

MARS is Closer to Home than You Realize 

I took advantage of an exciting opportunity to join an AIAA tour on Friday of the NASA Wallops Island, VA facility, just south of Chincoteague. The facility includes the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), which launches small satellites into orbit and will soon be helping to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) with the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Taurus II rocket. MARS gives the Mid-Atlantic region its own "space coast". (Florida can't keep all of the fun to itself!)


Pad 0-A will see launches of the Taurus II rocket starting this fall. The water tower is over 300 ft. tall and stores water to be sprayed on the pad at launch to protect it from damage.


With the Atlantic Ocean in the background, the launch pad's base is surrounded by four tall lightning protection towers and four mounts that will spray water on the pad at launch to protect it from flame and vibration.


Pad 0-B will see its next launch this summer of a Minotaur rocket carrying a military satellite to orbit.


Taurus II boosters being prepared in the new Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF).

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