Launch Pad Avoids Major Damage - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Launch Pad Avoids Major Damage

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - Wallops officials told WBOC on Thursday that early reports show the launch pad did not suffer any major damage and ultimately, they got lucky because things could have been much worse.

Preliminary reports show many of the systems and equipment on the launch pad are still operational.

"All the tanks look to be in pretty good shape. The fuel tanks. The oxygen and the kerosene. The water tower looks to be in pretty good shape and the main part of the pad has its integrity," said Wallops Flight Facility Spokesperson, Keith Koehler.

It was shortly after liftoff that a problem in the Antares Rocket caused Orbital Sciences to pull the plug on the mission and flip the termination switch on the rocket.  It sent the over 13 storey tall rocket crashing back down to Earth.

"It looks like the rocket fell probably just a few feet from the pad and that was kind of the first thoughts everybody had. So yeah, we're lucky," said Koehler.

Scientists and investigators have also been doing extensive environmental research and testing following the failed launch.  Air and soil samples have been taken from the launch pad and areas around it and no hazardous material have been found.  Wallops is also working with the Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Both of those organizations have no reports about wildlife impact or oil sheens on the ocean surface.

Wallops officials say investigators still may do a scan of the ocean surrounding the launch pad to determine if any pieces of the rocket ended up in the water which need to be removed.

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