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Boat Was On NASA Mission

By Staff | Nov 20, 2008

The Delta Mariner was an imposing sight to local river watchers as it was on a special NASA mission recently. It was picking up and transporting components of a NASA Ares I-X test rocket from Wellsville, Ohio. (Photo provided by Gene and Deloris Jean Emch)

The Delta Mariner, perhaps the largest boat ever to navigate the Ohio River, passed by New Martinsville on Oct. 17, going northbound, and Oct. 23, going southbound. It left in its wake many residents wondering about its origin and business on the local waterway.

The 312-foot long, 82-foot wide cargo ship, was on a mission for NASA. When travelling southbound on Oct. 23, the ship carried its precious cargo through the Hannibal Locks and Dam around 9:45 a.m. according to David Walters, facility lockmaster.

En route to Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Delta Mariner carried components of the NASA Ares I-X test rocket, which is scheduled for launch in 2009 upon being assembled at Kennedy Space Center. The rocket components were loaded onto the ship in Wellsville, Ohio, at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility.

The Ares I-X test launch will bring NASA one step closer to returning to the moon, exploring the surface of Mars, and even beyond by collecting valuable data and information needed to ensure future safe travel for astronauts and exploration vehicles traveling beyond the stars.

The Ares I-X will be the first flight test vehicle of NASA’s future launch vehicle program.

The Delta Mariner, created by Halter Marine in its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., was built for Foss Maritime of Seattle to transport Boeing Delta IV rockets from the Boeing production facility in Decatur, Ala., to launch sites located at Vandenberg Air Force base in California and Kennedy Space Center. The vessel is also available to be charted for other cargo carrying duties and has already completed seven runs between Mobile, Ala., and San Juan as well as several trips for General Electric out of ports in both Houston and New York City.

The multi-faceted ship proves to be extraordinary in that it possesses the capability to not only navigate inland waterways like the Ohio River, but also large bodies of water while cruising the open seas.