Glimpse Inside the NASA Wallops Flight Facility - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Glimpse Inside the NASA Wallops Flight Facility

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WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.- As the NASA Wallops Flight Facility prepares for the Antares rocket test launch on Wednesday, NASA officials gave the media a sneak peak inside the facility to shed some light on the other projects going on in Accomack County.

The first program highlighted during Monday's media tour was the facility's sounding rockets. s the

"It is our job to support scientific investigations and technology development by providing sub-orbital rockets to carry the experiments into the space environment.  We are part of the low cost access to space program within NASA.  Our job is to fly these rockets inexpensively to enable to advance the science and technology development," said Philip Eberspeaker, the chief of the sounding rockets program.

The program's team works on up to 50 projects at a time and will launch 15 to 20 rockets a year with a few lifting off from the Wallops facility.  The sounding rockets will reach about 3,000 mile per hour during their highest point in trajectory, a figure not even close to the Antares rockets.

"An orbital rocket like Antares has to achieve a velocity of 17,500 miles per hour in order to stay in orbit and get to the space station," Eberspeaker said.

The second part of the tour took the media to the balloon program.  These balloons are nothing like conventional weather balloons. They stay in the sky hovering at over 100,000 feet while collecting data and testing equipment for days at a time.

"The balloon is a great platform for developing instruments that will go onto spacecraft.  They're also a way to train the next generation of young scientists and engineers," said Deborah Fairbrother, the chief of NASA's balloon program.

So while the community gears up for the scheduled launch on Wednesday, those inside the labs at the NASA Wallops facility will remain hard at work to make the next great innovation to be launched into the stars.

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