Eastern Shore News
Massive fuel tank arrives at Wallops
BY CAROLYN VAUGHN • Staff Writer • August 21, 2010
WALLOPS ISLAND — A 162-foot-long, 56-wheeled vehicle transporting the largest tank of the fuel farm needed to launch Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Taurus II rocket arrived Monday at Wallops Island after a three-month journey from Mexico.
A 162-foot-long, 56-wheeled vehicle transporting the largest tank of the fuel farm needed to launch Orbital Sciences Corp’s Taurus II rocket arrived Monday at Wallops Island after a three-month journey from Mexico. (Greg Merritt photo)
The empty 80,000 gallon liquid oxygen tank, which is 124 feet long and 13 feet in diameter and weighs 230,000 pounds, spent three months in transit from a manufacturing facility in Mexico City. The company that built the tank is headquartered in Pennsylvania.
Several videos documenting the vehicle’s progress are posted on YouTube and have been receiving hundreds of views. They can be found by searching PRIMELOX MARS on the website.
The unusual vehicle also was the subject of a July 23 story in the Culpeper (Va.) Star-Exponent after it drove right through downtown Culpeper on Main Street to avoid traveling under overpasses and a railroad bridge on the Route 29 bypass.
Its final approach to the launch site came by way of Route 12, coming south from Maryland.
The launch complex on Wallops Island has been under construction since January and includes a new launch pad, a 300-foot-tall water tower and the Horizontal Integration Facility — a football field-length building where the rocket’s stages will be put together.
Orbital Sciences in December 2008 was awarded a $1.9 billion, eight year contract under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program to take cargo to and from the International Space Station.
A test flight of the 125 foot tall Taurus II rocket is set for June 2011, with a demonstration mission carrying the Cygnus spacecraft now planned for later in 2011. During the demonstration mission the Cygnus spacecraft will rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station, performing the identical operations as an actual CRS mission without carrying cargo, according to information on Orbital Sciences’ website.
The first CRS mission to take supplies to the International Space Station is planned to launch from Wallops Island early in 2012.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island is one of four spaceports in the nation licensed by the FAA to send rockets into orbit and is owned by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. MARS’ next launch is tentatively scheduled for the end of November for the U.S. Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Program.
(Note: VIDEOS can be viewed on the website of Spaceport Support Services of Selbyville, Delaware on the webpages listed below.
Additional VIDEOS can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=primelox+mars&aq=f which also includes some of those listed above.)