Media invited to space station launches from Virginia

NASA, Orbital ATK and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) will conduct a tour at 10:30 a.m. EST, on Thursday, Dec. 17, for media to view the completed work and preparations to resume next year commercial cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station from the agency´s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

Wallops director Bill Wrobel will talk with media at Pad-0A about progress made and next steps. Dale Nash, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, which owns and operates MARS, will provide a tour of the pad, and Mike Pinkston, Orbital ATK general manager and vice president of the Antares program, will lead a tour of the company´s Horizontal Integration Facility.

Media who would like to attend this event must contact Keith Koehler at by 5 p.m. Dec. 14. For this event, only media who are US citizens may attend.

A commercial resupply capability is vital to continued research and habitation aboard the International Space Station. The space station has enabled NASA to demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth over its 15 years of continuous human presence. Restoring a medium-class launch capability from Wallops is critical to furthering NASA´s and the nation´s goals in space, maintaining the space station as a springboard to the agency´s next giant leap in exploration — including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

Orbital ATK´s Antares program remains on schedule to commence flight operations from Wallops in the first half of 2016. The Antares is undergoing integration, with two new RD-181 engines fully installed into the first stage of the rocket. The program is working toward a full-power engine test on the launch pad early next year.

MARS has completed major repair work at Pad-0A, including modification of the commodity and purge lines to support the new engines, following the Antares launch mishap in October 2014. The team stands ready to support resumption of the cargo resupply launches with the upgraded Antares launch vehicle.