Tags: NASA | oil drilling | Atlantic | Virginia

NASA: Oil Drilling in Atlantic Could Hinder Rocket Launches

By    |   Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 04:45 PM

NASA tells the Interior Department that it would be a major hindrance to the space agency's activities if oil rigs are built in the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia's eastern shore.

The Interior Department had proposed opening up about 2.9 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean for oil companies to lease for oil drilling, but the plan was scrapped after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the USA Today is reporting.

In January, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that a draft oil and gas leasing program is set to run from 2017 through 2022, including an opportunity for drilling in the Atlantic off Virginia's coast.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has even announced that he plans to support the program as a boon to the state's energy industry. The Old Dominion is conducting a study to make sure the state is prepared for drilling to begin.

However, NASA issued a statement warning of the possible conflicts that may exist if there are oil rigs off Virgina's coast, and what it could mean for Wallops Flight Facility, where 20 to 30 rockets are launched every year, in addition to 15 to 20 balloons.

NASA says that it wants to be involved the proposed program because most of the area where the drilling could occur is in what it calls its mission-hazard area.

"The presence of either temporary or fixed structures at or below the sea surface, within our range's hazard areas, would have significant detrimental effects on our ability to conduct aerospace test activities," NASA said.

"Even the temporary presence of support ships or aircraft within a mission's hazard areas can result in mandatory range safety criteria not being met, leading to missed launch opportunities," it added.

Jay Ford of Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, a group that advocates for water quality, said that "it doesn't take much imagination to see why dropping a [rocket] stage onto an oil rig would be a problem."

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NASA tells the Interior Department that it would be a major hindrance to the space agency's activities if oil rigs are built in the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia's eastern shore.
NASA, oil drilling, Atlantic, Virginia
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2015-45-12
Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 04:45 PM
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