Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Viriginia Governor Appoints Second Orbital Sciences Rep to VCSFA Board

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 6, 2011
Filed under , , ,

Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Gov. Bob McDonnell has appointed a second Orbital Sciences Corporation official to the 13-member Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority board, filling a slot reserved for the company that had been left vacant. The Daily Press reports that McDonnell appointed Robert T. “Bob” Richards, vice president of Orbital’s human spaceflight systems’ advanced programs group, to the board last Friday.

A recent study conducted for the Commonwealth by KPMG recommended creating a smaller board of directors and removing Orbital from its membership. The consulting firm says that Orbital’s presence on the board is seen as a conflict of interest by other potential users of the state-run Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island.  KMPG recommended that Orbital have membership on an advisory board instead.
Oribital is MARS’ main tenant. The company and the Commonwealth have jointly funded upgrades to the spaceport for Orbital’s new Taurus II rocket, which is set to make its debut next year. The Northern Virginia-based rocket company has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Orbital is also marketing the Taurus II for satellite launches.
Orbital’s representation on the VCSFA board was guaranteed as part of the MARS development agreement the company signed with Virginia. The deal would have had to be renegotiated if McDonnell had chosen to follow KMPG’s recommendation.
The Daily Press also reports on the issuance of yet another report — the third in the last month — concerning the operations of the VCSFA and MARS. This review comes from the state-chartered Center for Innovative Technology.  The newspaper reports:
“Continued operations of the [Virginia Commercial Spaceflight] Authority and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport are contingent upon increased annual financial support from the Commonwealth,” says the first of several recommendations in the report that call for “immediate attention.”The center, a state-chartered nonprofit that receives public and private funding, also goes out of its way to stress the importance of Virginia’s relationship with Orbital Sciences Corp. The Dulles-based aerospace company, with a $1.9 billion NASA contract to resupply the International Space Station, is easily the spaceport’s biggest customer.

I’ve been looking for a copy of the report, but I haven’t found it online yet. I’ll post something when I do.


Leave a Reply