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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Virginia Commercial Launch Pad Commences Second Orbital Campaign in Mere 4-Month Period

The commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport has commenced the launch campaign for the Minotaur-1 orbital spacecraft NFIRE set for 4 AM EDT, Saturday, April 21 from the Virginia Eastern Shore Wallops Island.

NFIRE is a project of the Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency. MDA is funding the flight. The payload will test experimental equipment to gather data on exhaust plumes from rocket launches for military space defense systems. DoD has purchased launch services from the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.

The spaceport is conducting its second launch in just slightly four months following the very successful first December 16 orbital launch of the TacSat-2 aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation configured Minotaur booster.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is seeking to market launch services to the military, NASA, and commercial sectors. A study is now underway for NASA COTS vendors to use the Virginia launch facility to boost supplies to orbital space stations. The runway and launch pads may also be possible suborbital tourism spacecraft launch facilities in the future.

Virginia's state legislature recently enacted a Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act to boost prospects of commercial launch firm use of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.


Anonymous said...

I'm an 20 year employee of a contractor at Wallops who lives in Maryland. Let me start by congratulating the people of the State of Virgina on persuing a Spaceport in their home state. Most especially a Spaceport in the much neglected region known as the Eastern Shore. Bravo!!!

I'm aware the State of Virgina has some sort of a partner ship with the State of Maryland in developing business and educational opportunities the Wallops Spaceport and am curious about Maryland's participation. There seems to be little news coming out of Annapolis concerning the Spaceport venture. Does Maryland actually participate in the development of the Spaceport? Are you pleased with Maryland's participation? Can ordinary citizens from the local area help convince their State Representatives & Senators to participate more to help alleviate the monetary burden from the citizens of the Great State of Virginia?

JackKennedy said...

1] Maryland commenced participation with the spaceport in 2004 with execution of a Meomorandun of Agreement. Maryland residents are appointed to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority as a result.

2] Maryland's U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski has been very supportive of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the FAA-licensed commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. Hopefully, the Senator might be encouraged to help bring NASA COTS launch firms to the spaceport for utilization of the facilities to resupply the space station post-space shuttle retirement in 2010.

3] While I do not know the current details, it is my understanding that the Maryland legislature is
currently considering funding for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. I am certain that contact with Maryland state legislators would be of benefit.
Maryland has contributed $150,000 to the spaceport operations budget in the past. Hopefully, it will continue to make the annual contribution to its operational expansion.

In my judgment, both Virginia and Maryland legislators need to be encouraged to do more to leverage the assets in-place on Wallops Island especially when looking at what other states are doing without in-place space launch infrastructure. Citizen advocacy is of critical importance at this stage.