Wallops Flight Facility

Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) (IATA: WAL, ICAO: KWAL, FAA LID: WAL) is a rocket launch site on Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, United States, just east of the Delmarva Peninsula and approximately 100 miles (160 km) north-northeast of Norfolk. The facility is operated by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and primarily serves to support science and exploration missions for NASA and other Federal agencies. WFF includes an extensively instrumented range to support launches of more than a dozen types of sounding rockets;[1] small expendable suborbital and orbital rockets;[2] high-altitude balloon flights carrying scientific instruments for atmospheric and astronomical research; and, using its Research Airport, flight tests of aeronautical research aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles.

Wallops Flight Facility
Wallops Flight Facility insignia
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Pilotless Aircraft Research Station
  • Wallops Station
HeadquartersWallops Island, Virginia, 37.940194°N 75.466389°W / 37.940194; -75.466389
Agency executive
  • David L. Pierce, director
Parent agencyGoddard Space Flight Center
Wallops Flight Facility with its three separate parcels of property
NASA Wallops Flight Facility, 2010.

There have been over 16,000 launches from the rocket testing range at Wallops since its founding in 1945 in the quest for information on the flight characteristics of airplanes, launch vehicles, and spacecraft, and to increase the knowledge of the Earth's upper atmosphere and the environment of outer space. The launch vehicles vary in size and power from the small Super Loki meteorological rockets to orbital-class vehicles.[3][4][5]

The Wallops Flight Facility also supports science missions for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and occasionally for foreign governments and commercial organizations. Wallops also supports development tests and exercises involving United States Navy aircraft and ship-based electronics and weapon systems in the Virginia Capes operating area, near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to its fixed-location instrumentation assets, the WFF range includes mobile radar, telemetry receivers, and command transmitters that can be transported by cargo planes to locations around the world, in order to establish a temporary range where no other instrumentation exists, to ensure safety, and to collect data in order to enable and support suborbital rocket launches from remote sites.

The WFF mobile range assets have been used to support rocket launches from locations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, South America, Africa, Europe, Australia, and at sea. Workers at Wallops include approximately 1,000 full-time NASA civil service employees and the employees of contractors, about 30 U.S. Navy personnel, and about 100 employees of NOAA.

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