Space Island

Blast off to the Eastern Shore for a NASA rocket launch.

Virginia, be proud! NASA’s space program is lighting up the sky with regular rocket launches from Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore. And a new website that went live in April has everything visitors to “Space Island” need to know before they go.

“Having a website that makes it easier for people to plan a trip is a welcoming and hospitable thing to do,” says Kerry Allison, executive director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission, which developed the site. “Even 50 miles away from the launch site, you have a great seat,” to view the roughly 20 that take place each year.

Folks on the Eastern Shore are no strangers to hearing the boom and rumble of rockets. The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility was established in 1945 and is one of the oldest launch ranges in the country. Today, business owners on the ground have made welcoming neighbors.

“It’s exciting,” says Kelly Conklin, owner of the Chincoteague ice cream shop Island Creamery. A recent night launch, he says, was “spectacular, it was a party-like atmosphere around here with everyone outside to see it.”

Conklin created a special flavor of ice cream called Wallops Rocket Fuel; chocolate, cinnamon and hot pepper combine for a taste “you either like or you don’t,” he says. He has also concocted two special flavors of fudge: Moon Pie, and what else? Rocket Launch, of course.

Upcoming Launches:

May 6

Antares—Orbital Science’s commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Launch window: 3:44 to 3:49 p.m. EDT.

May 28

Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket—a NASA scientific mission that will collect data in the atmosphere. Launch window: 4 to 5 a.m. EDT.

Go to ESVATourism.org/space/landing_page_space.asp for information about visiting Space Island. For launch dates, call 757-824-2050.

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