BERLIN — Days after the most recent rocket launch from Wallops Island, located south of Assateague, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) this week toured the NASA flight facility to see first-hand the preparations for a major launch event later this year.
Around 6:40 a.m. last Thursday, a NASA rocket carrying 17 educational experiments arched its way across the early morning sky over the Lower Shore, reaching an altitude of around 73 miles before falling harmlessly into the ocean off the coast of the Wallops Island Flight Facility. The two-stage Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital rocket carried experiments built by university instructors and students from across the country developed through programs conducted with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.
Later this summer, NASA will conduct one of its largest launches ever from Wallops, the 133-foot tall Antares rocket, which will carry supplies and tools to the International Space Station. As chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, Mikulski toured the Wallops launch facility on Monday to check on the progress of the complicated launch preparations for the Antares rocket.
“As the nation’s only NASA-owned launch site, the Wallops Island Flight Facility is a centerpiece of our space and science infrastructure,” Mikulski said following the tour. “I visited Spaceport Wallops to make sure the team is on track in their preparations to send critical tools and supplies to astronauts on the International Space Station from the Lower Shore. There is still a lot of testing and work to be done, but I am encouraged by the close partnership between the federal and state agencies along with the private sector here at Wallops Island working to create jobs today and jobs tomorrow.”
Mikulski is a long-time champion of the Wallops Island Flight Facility and for investments in science, technology, research and education that lead to American innovation and American jobs.
The Maryland senator has led the effort to put almost more than $70 million in the federal checkbook during the last decade for critical upgrades to Wallops’ infrastructure, including $6 million to make Wallops a hub for broadband service on the Eastern Shore and more than $67 million for launch facilities, including $17 million for the Antares launch pad. In fiscal year 2011, she fought successfully for $299 million to support efforts to develop commercial cargo services for the International Space Station.