“A proposal by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to support commercial launches of human spaceflight missions from Virginia’s Eastern Shore poses a ‘direct threat’ to the economy and workforce of Florida,” roared late-September articles in Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel, announcing an assault on the ambition of making Virginia’s commercial spaceport more capable.
During this past summer, NASA sought public input on an environmental study relating to land-use changes at the Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County. The environmental impact study seeks to address the possibility of human space flight requirements at the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
Jack Kennedy reports that a bill that direct tax revenues from Virginia companies engaged in commercial human spaceflights or commercial spaceflight training to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority has been reported out of the Senate Finance Committee.
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and Holly Grove Vineyards are pleased to announceÂ â€˜Genesisâ€™, Â a new Virginia wine, with a very unique wine Â label celebrating the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and Virginiaâ€™s return to space.Â Billie Reed, the Space Authorityâ€™s Executive Director will give â€˜Genesisâ€™ to his NASA hosts when he attends the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery in Florida, scheduled for November 1, 2010.
Space technology leadership rests with Va. delegation by Jack Kennedy TriCities.com
Russia, China and India either have, or will have, vibrant human space launch capabilities by before the close of the next decade. The Russians and the Chinese will have multiple human to orbit capable space launch facilities by mid-decade now under construction.
If America is to continue as a leader is space technology, scientific research, and exploration, NASA needs a new and inspiring leadership role that abdicates the role of monopoly access provider to low earth orbit. NASA needs a strong commercial space launch sector regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Senate measure provides it while the House measure simply does not.
Virginia Business has an interesting story on the commercial launch potential of Wallops Island in Virginia, which includes possible human launches aboard Atlas V by Bigelow Aerospace:
Over the next five years, the company will make eight launches of the Taurus II from Wallops, as part of a $1.9 billion contract Orbital has with NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
The Orbital deal is nice, and there are even bigger prizes out there. The decades-long effort to let the private sector handle much of what NASA has traditionally done is gaining momentum. The Obama administration gave the idea a big push this year in its NASA budget proposal, which calls for outsourcing to private companies the delivery of supplies â€” and maybe some day crew members â€” to the space station.
Here’s an interesting quote from Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski which was included in a press release issuedÂ after Gov. Martin O’Malley toured the Wallops Flight Facility on Monday.
â€œWallops Island Flight Facility is home to American innovation. I fought to keep jobs at the Wallops Flight Facility and I will continue to fight to create the jobs of the future. Today we can see our investment in innovation is paying off, as Wallops becomes the Southwest Airlines of space: a lower cost, safer way to launch.â€
Massive fuel tank arrives at Wallops DelmarvaNow.com
A 162-foot-long, 56-wheeled vehicle transporting the largest tank of the fuel farm needed to launch Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Taurus II rocket arrived Monday at Wallops Island after a three-month journey from Mexico.
WMDT-47 News has an interesting story the shows the importance of Wallops Island in Virginia to the Maryland economy:
On Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley will tour the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, one of the oldest launch sites in the world. NASA and the other organizations at Wallops, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) employ approximately 1,800 civilian positions, including government and contractor jobs, 700 of which are held by Marylanders…
The Alabama’s 5th Congressional District just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. In fact, one could say it has descended into a farce.
If you recall, Rep. Parker Griffith switched from the Democratic to the Republican party last year, citing a lack of seriousness on the part of the Administration on defense and space issues. This was somewhat ironic because by going into the minority party, Griffith largely forfeited his ability to influence these policies. That includes the Administration’s plan to dismantle the Constellation program, an idea that Griffith strenuously opposes.
Guest blogger Jack Kennedy, who edits the Spaceports blog, makes the case for Virginia’s Wallops Island to play a major role in NASA’s new commercial space policy in this op-ed piece, which ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on April 21. Kennedy is a former State Assemblyman who serves on the executive committee of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, which governs the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. This essay is reprinted with the author’s permission.
By Jack Kennedy
Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell has been consistent in his vision to make Virginia’s commercial spaceport the best in the nation, most notably with his recent budget amendment to increase the operations budget for the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority; he is to be commended.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is now being readied for commercial space launches to haul supplies and cargo to the International Space Station beginning next year, following the aging space shuttle’s retirement. The first launch of the yet-to-be-tested Taurus-2 booster with the Cygnus spacecraft will mark not only the beginning of a new era in Virginia but the dawn of the commercial space age in America.
In a speech delivered to a joint session of the Virginia legislator, new Gov. Bob McDonnell gave strong support to predecessor Tim Kaine’s efforts to turn Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport into a major commercial space base.
Governor Kaine committed to invest $1.3 million in the Virginia Spaceport. We can make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, and I ask you to keep that money in place so that we can aggressively recruit aerospace companies and promote space tourism initiatives.
Orbital Sciences Corporation will launch its Taurus II rockets from the facility. The rockets will carry Cygnus freighters that will resupply the International Space Station.
The state is hoping to attract other launch providers and space tourism companies to the Wallops Island launch complex.
Perhaps the most eye-opening recommendation is that NASA use private companies to launch people into low-Earth orbit so the agency can focus on developing long-range plans to explore the moon and beyond.