On Thursday, March 14th, members attended Bayside Institute’s very first bus trip! Leaving the community, Bayside Institute attendees headed to the Wallops NASA Flight Facility in Virginia. There we learned about different aspects of the programs at Wallops:

  • Testing of Suborbital Rockets
    • NASA has a crane that can lift 10 tons! Although the heaviest piece of equipment it lifts is not even 4 tons.
    • NASA also has amazingly loud “subwoofers” used to simulate the launch and in-flight vibrations. The suborbital rockets are tested vertically and horizontally, but the testing team is unable to simulate a true launch and in-flight experience when testing.
  • The Balloon Program
    • A fascinating program used by scientists looking to gather atmospheric data. This typically operates at a lower cost than suborbital rockets, so it is a great way for scientists to begin their experiments and data collection.
    • The largest balloon can fit the superdome inside of it!
    • These balloons can float for around one week or up to 42 days, with hopes to one day reach 100 days, at above 99.9% of the atmosphere.

After lunch and a stroll through the gift shop, we headed off to the NOAA Program Office. Here we saw aisle and aisle of servers, some dating back to the 1970’s and still operating today. A gentleman by the name of Duffy, is responsible for maintaining all of them. The satellites on Wallops Island collect data from the satellites up above. This data contains the atmospheric imagery that is used in every single weather report across the country – yes, it all comes from one place, Wallops Island. Believe it or not, of the 61 people staffed on the NOAA team, not a single employee is a meteorologist.

We look forward to heading back for another tour to learn about other aspects of Wallops Island soon!