US spaceport launch pad repairs to take 12 months following Antares rocket explosion
08 December 2014
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority says its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallop’s Island was spared severe damage when an Antares rocket exploded upon launch in October, but repairs to the launch pad will still take about a year. The cost and work schedule for repairs to the facility are being worked out by spaceport engineers after a detailed inspection.
The rocket was on a commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station under Orbital Sciences Corporation's contract with NASA when its first stage had an anomaly 15 seconds after lift off, resulting in the explosion.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said he was looking to both Orbital and NASA for repair and remediation funding, and that he was confident flights from the spaceport would resume in 2016. Officials said the cost should not exceed $20 million.
NASA, MARS and Orbital are doing environmental remediation in the launch pad area, including pumping water from the impact crater, the VCFSA said.
Initial surface water samples taken in the area show no effect on surrounding waterways. Soil samples from the crater and the area around the launch pad showed contamination was contained to the area immediately around the crater.