NASA Wallops - America's Stealth Space Port

Keith's note: This tweet was posted around 1:00 pm EDT on 23 June. The launch is scheduled for the next day barely 19 hours away. NASA Wallops PAO never sent out a media advisory or a press release. I know this to be a fact since Keith Koehler at Wallops PAO recently confirmed that I am on the Wallops media list - so of course he'd have sent me one if there was one to send, right? Note that the tweet has a link to a youtube webcast - but no mention of anything at the Wallops website describing what the mission is about.

But if you go to the Wallops website - surprise surprise - there is a posting from 17 June 2021 - more than a week ago. Student Experiments to Blast Off from NASA Wallops. Ah, a student experiment. Does the NASA STEM Engagement office website or its Twitter account @NASASTEM mention this launch? No. NASA.gov has a Launches and Landings webpage devoted to upcoming agency launches. Does it mention this launch? No. NASA Wallops is managed by NASA Goddard. Doe you see any mention of these launches - managed by Goddard - mentioned by Goddard? No. NASA Langley is NASA's sister center in Virginia. No mention there either. But this is not surprising since all NASA field centers act as if they are the only NASA field center and rarely mention any other center (or NASA HQ for that matter).

Wallops tweeted about the launch once - on 17 June at 4:10 pm. So if you did not happen to see that one afternoon tweet you'd not have heard about it until today - unless you make a habit of checking the Wallops website every day. And again: no media advisory or press release was sent out, so tough luck news media. News flash: Wallops really does not do a lot of things - at least that is the impression you get from their website and mediocre, sleepy media effort. So the inclination to check it daily is not readily abundant. Oh yes - there are a bunch of people returning to the beaches. You can see day time launches. But it would seem that Wallops is not really expending a lot of energy to tell anyone - except their local media pals who have been given "exclusives" despite the fact that NASA PAO says that NASA does not give "exclusives".

FWIW I have lived in Virginia for 34 years. Unless you live in the Hampton area or near the Chesapeake Bay you have no idea that NASA even has a center in Virginia - much less two - or that any space stuff is done here. Indeed, most folks in Virginia who know that there is a space thing on the Chesapeake bay think that Wallops is in Maryland or Delaware. Former Sen. Mikulski certainly acted that way. Contrast this with the space states like Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and California. There is no doubt whatsoever that they place a big emphasis on NASA and NASA responds in kind. There are no stealth launches or programs in those space states, rest assured. But Virgina's space efforts? Yawn.

Oddly Virginia has the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA). Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) which is part of the overall NASA Wallops Facility where commercial ISS Cargo flights (using hardware that is also built in Virginia) are launched and (soon) where RocketLab will be launching. But does NASA or Virginia do much of anything to promote that? No. But if you go to the VCSFA website or their Twitter account they have no mention whatsoever of the actual rocket launches that are happening at the space launch site that they are promoting.

Now here comes Joe Biden and all of that infrastructure talk - and Bill Nelson can't wait to get his hands on some of that infrastructure money since lots of things are crumbling at NASA. Wallops buildings certainly have a coastal environment to deal with and increasing commercial activity all but certainly means more infrastructure. The real question is whether NASA - and Virginia will take the whole Wallops thing seriously or, if they will just allow it to continue to be that sleepy, hard to get to place on the beach that launches rockets sometimes and has large mosquitos.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 23, 2021 3:34 PM.

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