NASA Completes Initial Assessment of Virginia Launch Site Following Rocket Explosion

Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach(WALLOPS, Va.) — NASA said on Wednesday that the Wallops Incident Response Team completed its initial assessment after Orbital Science Corporation’s Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff on Tuesday.

“I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource — our people,” Wallops Director Bill Wrobel said. The initial assessment is just a “cursory look,” the NASA press release notes, though it found numerous broken windows and imploded doors at buildings in the immediate area.

The most severe damage was found at a sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the launchpad and buildings nearest the pad, and there was damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning supression rods at Pad 0A.

Soil, air and water samples will be taken from the incident area to ensure that the environment is safe. No hazardous substances were detected in initial sampling.

Also on Wednesday, Orbital said in a statement that the “major elements of the launch complex infrastructure…avoided serious damage.”

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