Historic SpaceX launch gets support from NASA crew at Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore

Virginia News

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (WRIC) – While all eyes are on the historic SpaceX launch today in Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA staff closer to home are monitoring and supporting the launch from Virginia’s eastern shore.

NASA staff at Wallops Flight Facility in Chincoteague, Virginia, are playing an integral part of the launch as they conduct telemetry tracking of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Capsule as it travels up the east coast.

That data will be relayed in real time to SpaceX in California to let engineers know how well the rocket is performing.  

“I was so excited when I found out we were part of that equation – that we here in Virginia at Wallops were going to be part of this launch, this historic launch,” said Bob Jameson, Deputy Director, Wallops Flight Facility.

“We’re really excited to be even a small part of NASA’s return to flight from American soil, putting astronauts up, and then the first commercial launch of NASA astronauts.”

Northrop Grumman Antares CRS-13 Launch
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Chincoteague, Virginia. (Photo from NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

According to Jameson, Wallops Flight Facility has been involved with manned space flight for as long as NASA has been involved with manned space flight.

The Virginia facility provides tracking telemetry and radar tracking for launches from Cape Canaveral with they happen to be going north – launches from the Cape that are destined for the International Space Station go right up the east coast. 

The Wallops facility is home to a variety of NASA research projects and the team has supported the NASA Sounding Rocket Program for more than 40 years. They also launch about 25 scientific research balloons each year as part of the NASA Balloon Program Office, which supports scientific research.

“In the current environment with so many things not happening, what an exciting thing that we can pull this off in conjunction with SpaceX,” said Jameson of today’s historic launch. “If this isn’t inspiring, then what is?”

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