Another Step Forward for COTS

Another Step Forward for COTS

NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program took another step forward today with the inauguration of a new facility at NASA’s Wallops Island, VA launch facility.

Orbital Sciences Corp., based in Dulles, VA, is one of the two companies vying to provide commercial services to NASA for taking cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the COTS program. While most media attention has been focused on Orbital’s COTS competitor SpaceX, Orbital has been moving along with development of its Taurus II launch vehicle which it plans to launch from Wallops.

Located off the southern portion of the so-called Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Penisula along the Atlantic Ocean east of Washington, DC, Wallops has been the site of many suborbital and some orbital launches throughout its long history. A portion of the facility is now called the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Horizontal Integration Facility that will be used for the Taurus II.

Bolden referred to the “tough mission schedules” facing COTS as the space shuttle program comes to an end and NASA loses the shuttle’s significant cargo-carrying capacity. The first Taurus II launch is expected this fall.

Wallops is located in Virginia, but is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski (D), a strong NASA supporter, praised the effort for bringing “jobs, jobs and more jobs to the Lower Shore — jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow.”

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