Wallops Flight Facility Releases Initial Damage Assessment After - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wallops Flight Facility Releases Initial Damage Assessment After Rocket Explosion

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WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - The Wallops Incident Response Team has wrapped up its initial assessment of Wallops Island following Tuesday's Antares rocket explosion shortly after liftoff at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

The team says it found a number of support buildings in the immediate area of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport have broken windows and imploded doors. They say a sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.

The initial assessment also showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods at the launch pad.

"I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource -- our people," said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director. "In the coming days and weeks ahead, we'll continue to assess the damage on the island and begin the process of moving forward to restore our space launch capabilities. There's no doubt in my mind that we will rebound stronger than ever."

The Wallops team also met with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Marine Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Wallops environmental team is also checking the area.  Early assessments show most environmental effects from the explosion are on the southern third of Wallops Island, adjacent to the launch pad.  According to NASA, the Wallops' industrial hygienist collected air samples at the Wallops mainland area, the Highway 175 causeway, and on Chincoteague Island right after the explosion. No hazardous substances were detected at the sampled locations.

The team reports, the Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission did not find any obvious signs of water pollution, such as oil sheens. Furthermore, initial assessments have not revealed any obvious impacts to fish or wildlife resources.

The area of Wallops Island north of the island flagpole opposite the launch pad will reopen to allow the U.S. Navy to return to work.

NASA asks anyone who finds debris or damage to their property to stay away from it and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.


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