High Hopes for Virginia’s Wallops Island Launch Facility

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia

Forty years after astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, two busloads of Delmarva’s movers and shakers this week got a peek at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which supporters hope will be the next space venture to capture the public’s imagination.

The tour was organized by the Greater Salisbury Committee, whose membership includes top business executives in Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Sussex and Accomack counties. Also touring the spaceport were elected officials, along with economic development and tourism representatives, all of whom were allowed to walk around the control room and a launch pad and view NASA and Navy facilities on Wallops Island.

“The potential for the region is so great; we’re talking about jobs that are significant. … I look at the Delmarva Peninsula as the beneficiary of this site,” said Maryland Delegate Norman Conway, D-38B-Wicomico, of the spaceport. “It’s kind of a hidden jewel; a lot of people don’t realize the significance of the role it’s playing.”

The group also viewed video of two Wallops launches — a Minotaur rocket carrying an Air Force satellite in May and a test earlier this month of the Maximum Launch Abort System for NASA’s manned spaceflight program — as well as a simulated launch of Orbital Science Corp.’s Taurus II rocket, scheduled for its first trip to the International Space Station in April 2011.

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