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Del. port handles rocket cargo for NASA contractor

Del. port handles rocket cargo for NASA contractor

   The first piece of a rocket being built to resupply the International Space Station was offloaded Tuesday from a roll-on/roll-off vessel at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware, the state-owned Diamond State Port Corp. said.

   The port anticipates receiving six to 12 first-stage core structures for the Taurus II rocket that is being developed by Orbital Sciences Corp., Sterling, Va. The large sections are being shipped from the Ukraine and will be trucked to NASA's space flight facility at Wallops Island, Va., on a custom-built heavy-duty trailer escorted by police and support vehicles.

   The Taurus II will also be used to launch civil government, defense, intelligence and commercial satellites into space.

   The port operator said the vessel required special mooring arrangements.

   NASA two years ago awarded Orbital a $1.9 billion contract to supply the space station for several years.

   The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads is closer to Wallops Island, but would require a special barge service because Hampton Roads is downstream and on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay.

   The Bay Coast Railroad, which operates a rail-barge connecting the Eastern Shore with Norfolk, plans to pitch its service to Orbital now that repairs on the barge have been completed, Larry LeMond, vice president of operations, said. ' Eric Kulisch

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