NASA ushered in a new era of space exploration at its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the new Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF).
The HIF will support medium-class mission capabilities. The first customer to use the facility will be Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., with its Taurus II launch vehicle.
"With this state-of-the-art building, NASA demonstrates its commitment to the success of the nation's commercial launch industry," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, "We have already seen some fantastic progress and are looking forward to more this year. Wallops, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and Orbital have been working together to bring the Taurus II vehicle to the launch pad this coming fall under tough mission schedules. That effort is impressive and a model we should emulate whenever possible."
Orbital will conduct missions for NASA under the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project and Commercial Resupply Services contract. Integration of the Taurus II at the new facility will begin this month, with the first launch expected later this year. "Today is about bringing jobs, jobs and more jobs to the Lower Shore -- jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA. "I'm so happy to see our federal facilities like Wallops bringing the innovation economy to the community with this world-class international launch site that will soon launch science missions and take cargo to the International Space Station."
"The Horizontal Integration Facility is a vital part of our operation at the Wallops Flight Facility," said Dave Thompson, chairman and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corp. "The capability it provides to process two Taurus II vehicles simultaneously puts us in an excellent position to support NASA with missions to the International Space Station."
The facility is 250 feet long, 150 wide and 60 feet high. Its bay provides dual horizontal processing with 70-and 50-ton bridge cranes. Built in approximately 16 months, the HIF has adjacent laboratory and warehouse space. Its safety features include a deluge fire suppression system and a blast-attenuating wall.
For more information about Wallops, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/wallops
For more information about the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cots