Skanska is supporting – literally – Wednesday’s rocket launch to the International Space Station

Ready for liftoff! (Photo courtesy NASA)

When the 265-ton Antares rocket lifts off Wednesday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, it’ll be blasting off from a launch pad supported by a foundation supplied by Skanska’s Bayshore Concrete Products. Though the launch pad was built several years ago, this will be the first time it’s being used to deliver a payload to the International Space Station.

This launch, like the September 6 launch to the Moon’s orbit, is expected to be seen along the East Coast. However, it’s not expected to be as visible as the previous launch, given that rather than the rocket heading north, it’ll be heading east, over the Atlantic Ocean.

For the pad being used for Wednesday’s launch, Bayshore – based in Cape Charles, Va., on the Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk – supplied 750 14-inch precast square concrete piles, up to 148 feet long. A unique aspect to the piles is that they’re spliced together using a patented locking joint. That enabled the use of shorter pile sections, reducing shipping costs and enabling smaller cranes to be used to lift the piles, an important consideration given that the launch pad is located on barrier island made of sand.

Several Bayshore employees said they watched the September 6 launch. Given that Bayshore also supplied the piles for the pad used for that launch, it was a special experience to share with their families or significant others.

“It was really cool – the whole sky lit up,” said J.P. Binard, Bayshore chief engineer, who watched with his three-year-old son. “You could see the rocket go clear up into space, turn east and keep going to the moon.”

Virginia’s Eastern Shore is becoming popular for space tourism, said John Chandler, Bayshore’s vice president of finance. For the Moon launch, about 20,000 people came to Chincoteague near the launch site, and NASA brought in 35 busloads of VIPs from D.C.

“There were people in the streets and all over Chincoteague,” Chandler said.

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3 Responses

  1. Please note that this rocket was going much further than the ISS. It is a mission to the moon. See the attached link…

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ladee/main/index.html#.Ujd7c8YqjzZ

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