NASA Opens New Rocket Facility in Virginia

ASA has start a new facility to help ready commercial rockets for launch, and the first work at the new site should begin this month in preparation for a test flight to the International Space Station later this year.

The space agency held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on march 22, attended by bigwigs such as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. — to christen the new Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at its Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

The facility is six stories tall, about 250 feet (76 meters) long and 150 feet (49 m) wide. Medium-class rockets with multiple stages will be assembled at the HIF, then rolled out for launch at a nearby Wallops pad. NASA's first customer for the new rocket facility is Virginia-based Orbital Sciences, which will use the new building to assemble its Taurus 2 rocket — a vehicle that is expected to begin launching supply runs to the space station for NASA in 2012.