Recovery Plans Emerge as Assessment of Wallops Island Pad Damage Continues

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)
An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

Officials are estimating that it could cost $13 million to $20 million to repair the launch pad at Wallops Island following last month’s explosion of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket, according to media reports. It’s not clear who will cover what repairs at the Virginia-owned launch facility.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Gov. Terry McAuliffe is seeking federal funds to cover some of the repairs. Virginia’s two Democratic Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, released a statement last week saying they would work to identify federal monies that could help with the recovery.

The Democratic governor is also considering renegotiating its agreements with Orbital Sciences Corporation to ensure a more equitable cost sharing arrangement between the state, Orbital and NASA in the event of future accidents at the pad.

Orbital Sciences was launching a Cygnus freighter to the International Space Station under contract with NASA when the Antares failed shortly after liftoff. Investigators say they believe a turbo pump failure on one of the two first stage engines is the most likely cause of the accident.