U.S. Senator Tim Kaine toured the NASA Facility on Wallops Island today and spoke with employees about the planned launch of the Antares rocket in April and other projects at the flight facility.
During his visit, Kaine toured the Antares rocket at the Horizontal Integration Facility and later viewed the pad it will launch from. The Antares rocket will be launched April 17th and will get stood up vertically on the pad on Saturday. Throughout the tour, Kaine discussed the expanding role Wallops Island will play in the future of NASA and the next generation of space exploration, noting one of the keys to its success will be the attraction and retention of talented workers who can keep Wallops on the cutting edge of scientific discovery.
"Wallops Island is a great Virginia story of innovation and regional cooperation that will continue to diversify the economy of the Eastern Shore," said Kaine. "The launch of the Antares rocket in the coming days is just the next exciting step for this facility and the NASA rocket program. I was proud to work with NASA and Orbital to support Wallops Island as governor and look forward to continuing that partnership."
Kaine is a longtime supporter of the collaboration between Orbital Sciences Corporation and NASA on Wallops Island. As governor, Kaine recruited Orbital Sciences to the facility on Wallops Island and approved a grant that enabled infrastructure and broadband upgrades for the island and aided in the development of the Wallops Island Research Park. The NASA facility has seen more than 16,000 launches since its creation. Following the launch of the Taurus II rocket, Orbital Sciences won a $1.9 billion contract from NASA in 2008 to transport cargo to the International Space Station. Most recently, NASA approved a deal with the Navy to use the site for limited practice landings for its pilots.
Before visiting the Wallops Island flight facility, Kaine stopped by the Parksley Volunteer Fire Company in Accomack County to thank the firefighters for their work to combat the recent string of arsons in the area. The Parksley Company has responded to 57 of the 77 fires that were set by arsonists since November.
"I'm extraordinarily grateful to the brave volunteer firefighters across the Eastern Shore who have swiftly responded to every last one of these terrible fires," Kaine said. "They provide an invaluable service to this community every day but especially so for the past few months."
In addition to announcing his first Senate bill, the Troop Talent Act, in Richmond this week, Kaine visited Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, participated in a roundtable discussion with military families in Norfolk, toured Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, visited Fort Lee, toured CCAM and Rolls Royce manufacturing facilities in Prince George County, met with veterans in Lynchburg, and spoke with students at the University of Virginia. Since taking office in January, Kaine has traveled around the Commonwealth meeting with students, members of the defense community, educators and business owners.