Scaffolding Solutions Supports Restorations at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility

Posted on September 9, 2021 in Case Studies

scaffolding at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility.NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility at the coast of Virginia is a key launch facility for government and commercial sector research aircrafts, scientific balloons, unmanned aerial systems, and sounding rockets. 

Wallops Island also supports military operations, technology development, and satellite tracking for multi-organizational missions including the US Navy, NOAA, the FAA, and Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. 

The Surface Combat Systems Center (SCSC), one of the leading centers on the island, provides maritime integrated warfare systems for US naval fleet operations, training, and research and development. 

The Challenge

SCSC’s 165-foot-tall communication tower, integral in supporting the US Navy’s AEGIS Combat System communications for conducting live tests and training exercises, was aging and needed repairs. 

Safe worker access was required for the reconstructive work, including removing and replacing high-level and roof-top platforms, refurbishing entire masts and elevator roof and enclosure, and installing a new fiberglass deck.

Specific scaffolding system challenges for this project included:

  • Supporting the scaffolding structure without using tower platforms, antennae platforms, masts, and adjacent building facades.
  • Providing access to 28-foot-tall masts without support from existing structures.
  • Providing safe access beneath the 20-foot wide, deteriorating antenna platform
  • Managing potential heavy wind loads.
  • Providing a safe worksite for construction workers and over 300 military and civilian personnel working at the SCSC facility.

Construction work needed to meet or exceed specifications and safety requirements of the US Army Corps of Engineers EM-385 Construction Health and Safety Regulations. Scaffolding installation also needed to be completed by July 6, 2021, which was an ambitious goal before the additional pressure of a scheduled rocket launch and unexpected storms. 

The Solution

Scaffolding Solutions provided a self-supporting, 165-foot-tall OCTO® scaffolding system to access sensitive platforms and masts. OCTO® addressed potential heavy wind loads and provided a safe working environment. Scaffolding Solutions provided special equipment, design, and resources to complete the scaffolding in time.

Supporting the scaffolding structure 

Scaffolding Solutions had the right system scaffolding for the job and installed OCTO® with rigid five-meter lattice beams that spanned antennae platforms and avoided support from existing structures.

Providing access to masts 

Scaffolding Solutions chose OCTO® system scaffolding, which can be designed to be self-supporting and have locking mechanisms that tightens with use. This provided a rigid and safe scaffolding system for workers to access deteriorating masts without support from existing structures.

Providing safe access beneath the antenna platform 

Scaffolding Solutions addressed this technically challenging problem by installing two cantilevered sections with double-lattice guard rails on the OCTO® scaffold system, making working platforms rigid and allowing workers to safely access the underside of the antennae platform.

system scaffolding at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility.Managing potential heavy wind loads 

Scaffolding Solutions relied on OCTO®’s weather resistance and durability, proven in many previous projects completed under adverse environments and proven in this project as the scaffolding system withstood sustained the 50 mile per hour winds of tropical storm Elsa.

Providing a safe worksite 

The OCTO® scaffolding system provides safe access, free from falling objects, to authorized personnel working at the SCSC facility while tower repairs continue.

Scaffolding Solutions installed the communication tower scaffolding system within five weeks. Installation remained quick and efficient while working with strict facility requirements, working through a strong tropical storm, and working around a rocket launch event that cleared Wallops Island of all non-essential personnel. 

Workers completed a safe and approved scaffolding before the deadline because of the innovative and versatile design of the OCTO® scaffolding system. 

The Result

The OCTO® system scaffolding is lighter and has fewer components to be assembled. In addition, it was easily transported, easily installed, kept downtime to a minimum allowing continuous and efficient installation, and helped with keeping the project on time and under budget specially for a security-sensitive and time demanding assignment.

The design and installation of the scaffolding system complied with safety requirements of the US Army Corps of Engineers EM-385 Construction Health and Safety Regulations without violations resulting in unplanned modifications. It was completed incident-free and will provide a safe worksite and access for construction workers until October 2021. 

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