Sen. Kaine visits NASA Wallops, highlights $100M+ investment for future bridge
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. – Virginia Senator Tim Kaine toured NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Friday, highlighting federal efforts to secure 103 million dollars in federal funding for the bridge that is the only way and off the island that houses 1.1 billion dollars of equipment.
“What we want to do is make the investments through NASA to enable this wonderful asset in Virginia to be used very very frequently,” Sen Kain said.
The bridge in question is 63 years old and was built with a steep hill to accommodate vessels traveling underneath its channels. With the maritime long-since diverted, the new build will feature a flat design to allow for easier transit of equipment required for sending rockets into orbit.
“This is going to secure us for a bridge that rocket lab to bring their motors as well as other companies like Northrop Grumman to bring those motors to the launch pad without it we would have a single point failure,” said NASA Wallops Director David Pierce, adding that “Our launch cadence is due to increase from a few orbital launches a year to over 30 a year by the end of the decade and this bridge will enable that.”
Senator Kaine says more launches, like those of the Antares mission that help resupply the ISS, means more companies could choose to be based at NASA Wallops, potentially turning the eastern shore into an aerospace hub.
“I’m a former mayor and governor so I like the economic development side of this, I like the eastern shore having a really stellar technology-based workforce and opportunity to inspire young people,” Sen. Kaine said adding “the prospect of having 6 to 7 pads five are now available that can be used by dod missions NASA missions intel missions commercial missions it’s exciting to see and to be here just 12 hours after the rocket lab launch.”
During the tour, the Senator visited the launch pad that just hours earlier sent a Rocketlab rocket successfully into orbit, as well as the Horizontal Integration Chamber, which saw the assembly of Antares rocket missions from Northrop Grumman.
The tour also featured a stop at the permanent fixtures off the coast of the beach that houses the flight facility, which is aimed to passively help regenerate sand and prevent the need for costly beach nourishment programs to prevent damage to the facility due to sea-level rise.
With the funding for the bridge secured, the Federal Highway Administration can begin its request for qualifications for a suitable bid.