Wednesday marks one year since Antares rocket explosion at Wallops Island

Posted at 11:54 AM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 23:38:43-04

Wallops Island, Va. - On October 28th, 2014, Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket exploded just six seconds after launching from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

No one was injured, but the explosion caused significant damage to portions of the facility.

The launch was supposed to be the third of Orbital Science's eight missions to NASA's International Space Station to deliver supplies and experiments.

Repairs at Launch Pad - 0A were completed September 30th with a budget of approximately $15 million split equally between the Virginia Space Authority, Orbital ATK and NASA.

The work included repairs to the Deluge, HVAC, Fire Alarm, Electrical systems, Controls, Liquid Fueling Facilities and damaged structures.

NASA spokesperson, Keith Koehler, says the missions to the International Space Station have continued, but not from Wallops Island.

"Our partners in Japan and Europe have since sent up supplies since then," he says.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced in August that launches were set to continue from Wallops in 2016.

Koehler says they are currently running tests on the launch pad, which consists of flowing oxygen through the piping to make sure everything is running properly.

In early 2016, Koehler says they plan to bring an upgraded Antares rocket onto the launch pad and fire it up as a test. Among its changes, the rocket will have new front engines. By the first half of 2016, they plan to launch the Antares rocket.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with the owner of Wolff's Sandwich Shoppe, who has been at the location for 31 years.

He has seen a number of launches down the street at Wallops Island, but he can never forget what happened last year.

"My wife had left a message saying the rocket had blown up and that it blew a window out here at the restaurant, the window right behind us," says Ron Wolff.  "It was a pretty crazy night trying to get everything back to normal."

He says the explosion had an impact on his business that he did not expect.

"A lot of familiar faces people that worked on it initially are coming back to redo the pad, so it's been really good. There's always something good that comes from a tragedy, so it worked out really good for us," says Wolff.


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