NASA Space Station Wallops: Glamour was yesterday / Breaking News

Big goals, little money: NASA wants to Mars, but the means are modest. Private companies should therefore accept cheap transport into Earth orbit. How does this work? A visit to America’s most unusual missile station.


Big goals, little money: NASA wants to Mars, but the means are modest. Private companies should therefore accept cheap transport into Earth orbit. How does this work? A visit to America’s most unusual missile station.

Rappelnd the Elevator strives upward. Scratched and worn. Second floor, the door squeaks aside. Rocket posters on the walls, linoleum on the floor. The scent of the sixties. Abundant rocked.

The control of the base, said Keith Koehler. Right there behind the steel door. That’s better.
Koehler is the man for public relations, wearing an oversized windbreaker, and on the chest above the heart emblazoned the logo of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA briefly. This blue celestial sphere with the red vector.

How’s continue with the U.S. space program? Now, as of the end of the space shuttle era Americans rely on Mitfluggelegenheiten in Russian Soyuz? Now that NASA has to make do with limited budget? At Wallops Iceland in Virginia you are looking for answers. In essence, it is important that private companies the routine tasks in space take over – and the NASA focused on real large-scale projects.

Although all manned missions NASA launched from Florida, but the launch pad on the east coast in Virginia is the oldest. Here they experimented since 1945 with missiles. Wallops Iceland: an upstream Peninsula, live on the wild horses where the rocket launch directly from the beach – and where now the state commission hopes for private space taxis back to better times.

NASA Space Station Wallops:Private companies to take over ISS transport


The way forward is primarily a conjuring the past at Nasa. It may again be as beautiful as it once was – albeit by other means. Back to the Future. On the Wallops site proclaims a sign: “To the Moon.”

Keith Koehler opens the steel door to modernity. The Control Center: dark carpet, three dozen computer terminals, large NASA logo, large U.S. flag. Screens on the wall show the launchers outside, the weather maps, the air and sea traffic. It smells like electronics.

Ten to twelve rockets are launched per year in Wallops. They originate from the U.S. military, the space probe “Ladee” flew from here to the moon atmosphere. Therefore, the Moon sign on the site. In the center of activities but are since last year, the Antares rocket Orbital Sciences Corporation – a private company in which NASA has purchased cargo transportation to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA Space Station Wallops:Great for Nasa, Small for private companies

Orbital's cargo ship arrives at space station

Orbital’s cargo ship arrives at space station

While the space agency wants to deal with the exploration of the distant universe, private companies such as Orbital or SpaceX will in future take over all transport in the Earth’s orbit. The missile launch by Orbital from Wallops this, SpaceX uses for the flights to the ISS a starting place at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Astronauts are not promoted in this way for the time being, food and water but very comfortable. Twice already, is a Cygnus capsule supply of Wallops flown to the ISS, this Saturday is the next launch scheduled for 13.14 clock Eastern Time (Clock 19:14 CEST). For months now the 40-meter-long Antares rocket stored horizontally in a hall on the site.

Special feature: The main components are not made ​​in USA. The cargo modules that look like a giant washing machine drums, Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy manufactures. In the clean room there are already almost half a dozen copies, waiting for their exports to the United States. Parts of the missile body in turn come from the Ukraine, and the engines are remanufactured Russian planes that had developed in the sixties for lunar missions, the Soviets.

The former space race between the superpowers saves the successors of the Cold Warriors generation today the development costs. Even the fuel tanks and which are on the site in Wallops are not new, but only revised. At the launch site in Virginia can be observed how important pragmatism has become in the U.S. space: solutions do not need to be glamorous, they work.

NASA Space Station Wallops:President Obama: “I intend to live the”

If in such an eminently efficient approach still room for dreaming? U.S. President Barack Obama says the one hand, of companies “bring American astronauts on American spaceships into space” in the future. And he also said, until the mid-2030s, people should penetrate into the orbit of Mars, later end up even on the Red Planet. “I would like to experience the”

Only the President is doing on the other hand not so much for those dreams. The U.S. House of Representatives has the Nasa granted in the budget for this year, nearly $ 18 billion, in a nearly unanimous vote on party lines. Obama himself had called for less than half a billion dollars. Ambitious does not affect his proposal.

The traditionally stingy parliamentarians saw especially when new astronauts transporter Orion and the heavy lift rocket SLS need for improvement. With them, the U.S. astronauts are scheduled to depart from the beginning of the next decade into space without help from the recently re suspicious of Russia. A committee of the U.S. Research Council, however, the beginning of June came to the conclusion that the current NASA budget over the long term are not enough to actually eventually send humans to Mars. Is needed are spending increases above the rate of inflation – and for an “extended period,” it says in the nearly 300-page report.

Where John F. Kennedy in the early sixties had a plan – until the end of the decade, Americans should land on the moon – Obama has especially beautiful words. In a race with the Soviet Union once went to America’s prestige. Now dominated cool cost-benefit calculation.


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