Orbital, NASA Eyeing July Launch at Wallops - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Orbital, NASA Eyeing July Launch at Wallops

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Antares rocket explosion.  (Photo: NASA) Antares rocket explosion. (Photo: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - There is no set date, but officials with Orbital ATK, the company that makes the Antares Rocket, is looking to return to flight from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in July.

It was October 2014 when an Antares Rocket exploded just moments after liftoff from the facility, located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  The rocket was headed to the International Space Station with supplies for the astronauts on board.  Since the explosion, crews having been working to restore the launch pad on Wallops Island and prepare it for another launch.

Tuesday, during a visit from U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., leaders with Orbital said their goal is a July launch.

"Right now, we're planning on the hot fire in the middle of May.  Once we evaluate the data from that, then we'll set the launch date in conjunction with NASA who will tell us when the station is available and when they need the cargo," said Frank Culbertson of Orbital ATK.

Mikulski visited the flight facility to announce the latest round of federal funding that will go towards various upgrades at Wallops.  $10 million will be used to upgrade infrastructure and behind the scenes technology over the next year.  Mikulski said support WFF is a no-brainer.

"It creates jobs: 1,600 people work here at Wallops.  It has a $200 million impact on the Maryland/Virginia economy.  And guess what? It works on national security and it works on new science and technology," Mikulski said.

Orbital officials said Tuesday they are still scheduled for two Antares launches this year at Wallops.  The second launch date later in 2016 also has not yet been set.

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