Page Title
Being a part of History
Sunday, April 21, 2013
General Refrigeration Participates in Private Partnership for Launch Pad at Wallops Island. A new commercial U.S. rocket soared into the Virginia sky April 21, 2013 on a debut flight that paves the way for eventual cargo flights to the International Space Station for NASA. The private Antares rocket, which launched into space from a new pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, its twin engines roaring to life at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) to carry a mock cargo ship out over the Atlantic Ocean and into orbit. The successful liftoff came after two delays caused by a minor mechanical glitch and bad weather. Built by the Dulles, Va.- based spaceflight company Orbital Sciences, the Antares rocket is a two-stage booster designed to launch tons of supplies to the International Space Station aboard a new unmanned cargo ship called Cygnus. Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to provide at least eight resupply flights to the station using Antares and Cygnus. Antares is the largest rocket ever to launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. It lifted off from the new Pad 0A, which is at Wallops but managed by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and overseen by the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority. Altogether, the Commonwealth of Virginia and MARS officials spent about $140 million to build the new launch pad complex. General Refrigeration Company provided the cross country piping system and the environmental control system for the new launch pad. Frank Nechay, president of General Refrigeration Company, stated "It was exciting to see the systems that we worked on provide such great service to something as important as the Space Program." With the retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet in 2011, the agency is relying on commercial companies like Orbital Sciences and SpaceX to provide the vital resupply services - and, eventually, crew launches - required to keep the space station fully stocked and staffed. Before the commercial program, NASA was dependent on Russian, Japanese and European cargo ships for supplies. "This is an incredibly historic day," Bolden told Orbital's team. "You couldn't have gone any farther without today. This was a first, huge step."