A New Kind of Tourism Is Taking Shape In Chincoteague
Chincoteague Island has long been known for its Wild Ponies and picturesque beach. Thanks to NASA, Chincoteague is becoming known for something new and exciting... the go to destination for viewing rocket launches from Wallops Island.
Wallops Island is the next Barrier Island south of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. Wallops Island also happens to be the home of NASA Wallops Flight Facility’s rocket launch facilities. Chincoteague Island provides an ideal location for the public to witness the thrilling launch events. The nighttime launches make for especially spectacular viewing.
Rocket launches from Wallops Island is nothing new. NASA has been launching small rockets from Wallops Island since 1945. However, in recent years NASA, the State of Virginia, and a private company have invested millions into Wallops Flight Facility’s infrastructure, allowing much larger rockets to liftoff from the site.
It all began when Dulles, VA based Orbital Sciences Corporation won a contract from NASA to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital then selected Wallops Island as their launch site for the ISS resupply missions. After several demonstration launches, Orbital Science's new Antares rocket carried the company's first official resupply mission to the International Space Station on January 9th, 2014.
The flawless launch of the 132-foot-tall rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft took place at 1:07 p.m., with viewers from a large portion of the East Coast of the United States able to see it.
The "Orb-1" mission carried 2,780 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, including science experiments, provisions, spare parts and hardware.
Thousands of space enthusiasts flocked to Chincoteague Island to witness the first ISS resupply mission from Wallops Island. They were not disappointed. The massive Antares rocket soaring through the sky was a spectacular sight indeed.
Chincoteague Island was buzzing with excitement leading up to the launch. The ever popular Island Creamery was serving “Rocket Fuel” ice cream. Bill’s Seafood restaurant added "Deep Fried Moon Pie" and a "Galactic Martini" to their menu.
The launch was the first of at least eight cargo missions Orbital is contracted to conduct through 2016 under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA — all to be launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Orbital Sciences second ISS re-supply mission (Orb-2) from Wallops Island, is currently scheduled for the Spring of 2014. For more information visist NASA Wallops Flight Facility or Orbital Sciences Corporation.
This article was published by Chincoteague.com on 2/10/2014.