Jump to content

Taurus II updates (and Wallops island contruction)


Recommended Posts

While not necessarily an urban development, I thought that since Taurus II represented a huge investment in the Virginia Space industry a topic would be appropriate.

WALLOPS ISLAND — Maryland and Virginia officials held a groundbreaking at a Monday ceremony marking the start of construction of a new launchpad and other facilities to support Orbital Science Corporation’s Taurus II rocket program.


The rocket will be used to carry cargo to the International Space Station. A demonstration flight is scheduled for late next year, followed by eight resupply missions to the International Space Station between 2011 and 2015.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said the groundbreaking marked “another era of discovery” similar to when Capt. John Smith first set foot on the Eastern Shore four centuries ago.

“Here on the Eastern Shore, people used to earn their living off the land or off the water...Now they are also going to earn their living off of space,” Mikulski said, calling the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops “a global center...an international center for research and discovery.”


Here is a link to the NASAspaceflight.com thread dedicated to Taurus II development.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 22
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Images of the ground breaking ceremony, used with permission from Dr. Antonio Elias:

DWT explains the works to Acting Administrator Scolese ("Chris, there will be a test afterward, so pay attention")

Second picture: the desolate view of the Island looking towards Pad 0B (Pad 0A gave its all in the name of progress a couple of months ago) - I will post a picture taken from the same point a year from now...

By the way, all photos courtesy Capt. Frank Culbertson, USN (Ret.)



Next: the dignitaries laugh, not knowing they will be soon sent to hard labor in the salt mines. Left to right: DWT, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Trade and Commerce David Smith, Goddard Space Flight Center Director Rob Strain, NASA Acting Administrator Chris Scolese (partially hidden), Chairwoman Mikulski, NASA Wallops Flight Facility Director John Campbell.

Yours truly is standing behind, not amused (it must be that darn suit...)

Second photo: Secretary Smith, DWT, Chairwoman Mikulski, Acting Administrator Scolese, Virginia Space Flight Authority Chairman Vincent Boles, Goddard Director Rob Strain, Wallops Director John Campbell. I asked them to stay and dig for a couple more hours - my construction budget is very limited. Did they do it? Nooo... too important... too busy to stop and help the little people..



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


Wallops Island facility to be 'Cape Canaveral of North'

There isn't much to see yet at the grandly named Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, just the skeleton of an old launch gantry on a piece of oceanfront leased from the federal government.

But promoters expect something remarkable to blossom on this sun-baked spit of sand and scrub on the Eastern Shore.

David Smith, a state official from Virginia, which joined with Maryland six years ago to operate a commercial spaceflight center with the lofty acronym MARS, says the area is on track to become "the Cape Canaveral of the North."

For now, though, it's the Wal-Mart of spaceports.

"They can do more with a dollar than anyone else within NASA," said Robert Strain, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center, which operates the Wallops Flight Facility where MARS is based.

The facility operates out of a one-room former gas station on NASA property, not far from a busy highway that takes beach-bound visitors to the southern end of Assateague Island. It employs six people.

Spaceport officials like to tout their cut-rate location, a barrier island just off the Delmarva Peninsula. From here, they say, it's a shorter shot to the orbiting International Space Station, which means lower bills for rocket fuel. Insurance is cheaper, too, since flights go almost entirely over water (trajectories from Florida cross Europe and the Middle East).

MARS' new $10 million rocket assembly building, soon to go up near a new launch pad, is so modestly sized that 50 of them could fit into the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida with room to spare. The Mid-Atlantic spaceport's sole rocket provider fashions launch vehicles, in part, from fuel tanks and engines developed for intercontinental ballistic missiles by the United States and its Soviet bloc adversaries and decommissioned after the Cold War.


As much as I hate Walmart, I will take the complement this time :good:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

A couple of weeks ago, Orbital gave an overview of its plan and progress on Taurus II to the Augustine Commission. The Commission is responsible for researching NASA's Human spaceflight program and making suggestions to the President about recommended policy and progress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

An academic symposium will be held this fall to explore the potential of what officials are calling "Virginia's Spaceplex" in the Wallops Island area.

Accomack County and state officials met with representatives from several state universities Wednesday in Richmond to hear preliminary proposals for a concept study for the Wallops area, which would emphasize developing a vision for its potential and which eventually would lead to an economic impact analysis and concrete recommendations.

The county last week issued a request for proposals for the study, saying it will aid in marketing efforts for Wallops area enterprises. But by the end of yesterday's meeting at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the group decided to take a broader approach and to concentrate on three different aspects of planning for growth in the area: to plan for immediate needs related Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II project; to hold a symposium; and to do comprehensive long-range planning.

The group also decided at that meeting that a concept study was needed.

Included in Wednesday's meeting were Forbes; Bull; Accomack County Administrator Steve Miner; Accomack County Planning Director Jim McGowan; Bruce Hoogstraten, Chairman of the Governor's Aerospace Council; Dr. Billie Reed and Laurie Naismith of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport; Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority Manager Stan Scott; several VEDP representatives, and representatives of academic institutions including Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Work will begin in the next two weeks or so on a new building on Wallops, the Horizontal Integration Facility, where the rocket will be assembled before being transported to the launch pad.Construction of the launch pad itself will begin in October. The pad has to withstand almost 1 million pounds of downward thrust at launch from the 125-foot-tall rocket.

"These are big rockets; they'll rattle your teeth if you're within 10 miles" when they launch, Bobczynski said.

A total of 1,500 piles driven 130 feet down will be used in construction of the two facilities on the barrier island.


Another excerpt, discussing transportation

Transporting the large rocket parts to Wallops is one of the main challenges Orbital faces, according to Bobczynski. The hump-backed bridge to the island is not rated to carry the weight of some components, while the barge option also is running into problems due to the shallow, narrow channel leading to the island.The current plan is to bring the first stage of the rocket, which is manufactured in the Ukraine, by barge from Newport News up the coast to an area off Wallops, then switch to a smaller tugboat to bring the barge into Chincoteague Bay.

Bobczynski also said he was to meet Thursday with the person who leases oyster beds just to the south of where the barge will enter.

"Ultimately, our long-term goal in five or six years is not to have to barge this thing," he said, adding the company would need Accomack County's support to create infrastructure to bring rocket components in another way. Rail is one alternative, he said.

County Administrator Steve Miner more than a year ago initiated a project to research the region's railroad system and scenarios for bringing the railroad to Wallops. A Salisbury University study on the railroad is now complete, Economic Development Director Larry Forbes said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

ATK conducts a successful test of the First stage, a Castor 30 solid upperstage :


Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) successfully tested its newly developed CASTOR 30 upper stage solid rocket motor today at the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tennessee. The test was a significant milestone for ATK, which developed the motor using internal research and development funding. The CASTOR 30 fills a key position in the company's "Family of Motors" product line concept. This concept provides a set of fully developed rocket motors to the market place that have been specifically selected to satisfy the maximum number of current and future military and commercial customer missions.

A version of this motor is being used by Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) in its Taurus( )II medium-class launch vehicle. It is slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, to be demonstrated under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program for later delivery missions to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services contract. A slightly modified version of the CASTOR 30 is also being used as the basis for the third stage of the U.S. Air Force Large Class (92-inch) Stage (LCS) program. Other potential applications have also been identified.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Orbital Sciences is still hoping for a March 2011 debut of the company's medium-lift Taurus 2 rocket, but challenges with facility construction and delays in ground testing could push the first launch later into next year, a senior manager said.

Speaking to Spaceflight Now last week, Orbital senior vice president Frank Culbertson said first stage engine testing at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is now projected to start in April or May.

The first batch of AJ26 engines is slated to arrive at Stennis no earlier than March, nearly a year later than expected in schedules announced in late 2008.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

While I am disappointed in what the President did with NASA, it could be a boon for Orbital and Wallops:


WASHINGTON — Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp. is throwing its hat into NASA’s commercial-crew transport ring with plans to develop a crew capsule based on the company’s Cygnus cargo module, according to industry sources.

Beneski said a crew variant of Orbital’s Cygnus pressurized cargo module capable of carrying three or four astronauts, along with a human-rated version of Taurus 2, could be developed at a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion. One industry source identified Boeing as a potential partner in the effort, which would involve adding a new liquid-hydrogen second stage to the Taurus 2, giving it the thrust needed to carry around 8 metric tons to the space station. This would accommodate an Apollo-sized capsule based on the Cygnus cargo vehicle design along with a service module.

Although Beneski declined to comment on the time that will be necessary to develop a crew transport capability, one industry source estimated four years from contract award.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Ever heard of Wallops Island? This small barrier island off Virginia's coast may not be a household name, but it has the potential to threaten Florida's position as a leader in space flight." The above statement comes from Barney T. Bishop, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida, in a Jan. 26 guest column in the Orlando Sentinel.

Bishop goes on to say that Wallops "is prepped to become the 21st century's capital for manned space flight." And that if Florida doesn't get its act together, it's destined to play "second

This was before President Barack Obama's announced Monday that he wants to end NASA's return moon mission. Among other things, Obama wants to rely more heavily on commercial space travel.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

MARS works in conjunction with WFF, launching satellites and other missions into low-Earth orbit. With an FAA license, MARS will be able to launch humans on commercial spaceflights for space tourism. Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell has thrown his full support behind Wallops and MARS (Creigh Deeds and McDonnell matched each other on support for Wallops during the election). Last week, McDonnell urged the Virginia General Assembly to keep former Gov. Kaine's commitment to invest $1.3 million in MARS, despite Virginia's current budget shortfall. As Space Politics noted, McDonnell promised, "We can make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, and I ask you to keep that money in place so that we can aggressively recruit aerospace companies and promote space tourism initiatives."


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

NASA is increasing its support of the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The space agency said the support contract with the Virginia Space Flight Authority has a potential value of approximately $43 million through May 2014.

The investment is part of an effort to enhance the Atlantic center to successfully launch small and medium class orbital missions for NASA, as well as other federal organizations and commercial launch providers.

Launches are planned in 2011 and 2012 at Wallops.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Just came back from Wallops - work there is in full swing, and everything should be done by December. Lots of piling going on... the pilings for the HIF (Horizontal Integration Facility - the BIG building) have all been driven, the new pad 0A pile driving is beginning. In total, over 5,000 piles! (well, 50-ft pile segments... some of the pilings are 150 ft deep, so they take 3 sections... the total number of pilings is about 3,000).

Here are a few pictures: in the "Pan view of Pad 0A" you can see some the piles for the ramp indicates both the curve and the slope of the ramp. Notice the height of the sea wall.

In the background, just to the right of the lollipop-shaped water tower is a POINTY (not squat) comm antenna tower. that's where the HIF is located (the HIF "hugs" that tower, as you will see in the pictures). That gives you an idea of the separation between the pad and the HIF.

In the view from the North ("k - ramp piles begin added") you can see the (future) transition from the old beach road to the new ramp, as well as pad 0B, which has recently been upgraded for Minotaur IV.

Here is a picture of the HIF construction site - notice one of the two ramps leading up to the HIF floor level, some 11 feet above sea level (10 ft required for the 100-year worse case storm and solar tide flooding plus one for good luck, like at Michoud...). In the background ("Looking South at HIF") you can barely see in the background the pile driver working at the pad, between the lefmost pile driver and the flagpole.

On the second picture, note the pilings along the centerline of the ramp... there are matching pilings along the two sides of the ramps... then hundreds (actually, over 1,000) under the main building pad itself!

I've also included a couple of CAD drawings of the pad complex showing the ramp, the enormous water tank for the deluge systems, the fuel/gas tank farms and the enormous water, kerosene and LOX holding basis... all very, very environmentally-friendly.

It takes more than rocket engines, you know!!!

O.K., O.K.,... here's a couple hardware pictures just to keep you quiet... ;)

First, the last of the 2x duration test firings at Samara - start-up, flight throttle level and shutdown. Pretty amazing that a 40-year old engine is taken out of a container, dusted and checked, and then fired at flight throttle settings for 10 minutes, then dissasembled, and not a scratch!!!

The last two pictures show the first Kerosene tank cylinder section and the first LOX tank at the Yuzhmash factory in Dniepro. Sorry for the crummy quality of the pictures, but that makes them easier to pass ITAR scrutiny...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

They are installing a solar farm at KSC, and now it is time for Wallops to jump on the alternative energy bandwagon

NASA wants to install wind turbines on Wallops Island to generate electricity for its flight facility.

A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled April 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Wallops Island Flight Facility's Visitor Center. April 5 is the deadline to submit comments.

NASA says the wind turbines would generate about a third of the flight facility's electricity. The goal is reduce the facility's utility costs and meet federal energy management requirements.


I am pretty sure that it is not too scalable though, you cant really have too many wind turbines on the range as well as oil derricks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Another well known private commercial spaceflight venture interested in Wallops:

Michael Gold, an attorney who represents Bigelow Aerospace, said the Nevada-based company will work at Wallops provided the nation commits to the commercial spaceflight agenda outlined by President Barack Obama.

"We will be here," Gold told a group of about 50 people recently after a tour of Wallops, where NASA has launched rockets from since 1945.

Bigelow was founded in 1999 by Robert T. Bigelow, who made millions operating the hotel chain, Budget Suites of America. The company made a name for itself in 2006 when it partnered with the U.S.' former Cold War nemesis to launch Genesis I. It used a Russian rocket that once held a nuclear warhead to send an inflatable space station into space.

Bigelow self-financed the aerospace company with $180 million and has said he is willing to spend $320 million more to put a private space station into orbit. The company's success will be determined by finding a reusable vehicle to send humans into space, Gold said.

I would ignore the rest of the article, the reporter clearly does not have too much grasp of the subject:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[qupte]A quick status on Cygnus.

Passed ISS Phase II safety review.

Wrapped up the CDR series (which began Nov 2009).

First Pressurized Cargo Module assembly underway in Torino - basic welded structure completed.

Will provide pictures as I get them.

We plan to have a full-scale mockup of a Cygnus spacecraft (Service Module plus a Pressurized Cargo Module) at the National Space Symposium at the Broadmore in Colorado Springs which starts Moday April 12 (by the way, we're sponsoring the opening fireworks...)

If you happen to be at the NSS, you can't miss it: it will be by the lake, to the right of the bridge that crosses the lake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...

September update:

Development at the Wallops Island launch site continues at a brisk pace. The Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF), where Taurus II will be assembled and mated with the payload, is totally under roof. At Pad 0A, tons of concrete are being poured to finish the launch pad structure and flame trench. The main Liquid Oxygen (LOX) storage tank completed a three-month-long journey from its manufacturing facility in Mexico and was installed at the site in August. The RP-1 storage tank had a much shorter voyage, coming from North Carolina and was installed in August as well. In addition, workers are busy finishing the ramp the launch vehicle will travel on its way to the launch pad, as well as preparing the site for installation of the numerous smaller gas storage tanks used for pressurization and other pre-launch functions. Although not associated with Taurus II, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) is also extending the height of the mobile gantry at Pad 0B, just south of the Taurus II Pad 0A. The gantry is being expanded to accommodate Orbital’s Minotaur IV and V launch vehicles. The pad will host the inaugural Minotaur V mission that will launch NASA’s Lunar Atmospheric Dust Environment Experiment (LADEE) spacecraft into a trans lunar orbit.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.