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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Pushes Spaceport Development to Multi-Commercial Launch Firm Facility by Investing Real Money

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Va.
A prime location for orbital launches and a trajectory path over the Atlantic Ocean position the Commonwealth's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport for tremendous growth over the next few years. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell outlined the study called, Competitive Analysis of Virginia's Space Industry, at the 15th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference held in Washington, D.C. The study details the Commonwealth's space landscape and gives recommendations and strategies to move the program forward, [Virginian Pilot].

"Virginia is poised to become a leader in commercial space launch operations and our efforts will be enhanced by the implementation of these recommendations," said Governor McDonnell. "As one of only four spaceports in the U.S. licensed to launch vehicles into orbit, we can only gain by promoting a robust space industry in the Commonwealth."  View the study report: Competitive Analysis of Virginia's Space Industry [PDF] and Gov. McDonnell's full remarks.

The most recent study comes on the heels of a report released in late 2011 by KMPG entitled Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority: Governance, Organization and Competitive Landscape.[PDF]. Legislation is advancing in the 2012 Virginia General Assembly [HB 813 and SB 284] to perfect many of the recommendations.  The spaceport authority board was moved from the Virginia Department of Commerce & Trade to the Virginia Department of Transportation last year.

In a unique effort, Virginia legislators are passing "tweaks" to a new tax law passed last year that transfers any tax revenue stream from human commercial space flight sales made in Virginia to the operating budget of the commercial spaceport. The measure would redirect any tax revenute stream generated by Virginia-based Space Adventures from its sales of human orbital, suborbital and zero-gravity parabolic training flights.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority meets in Richmond next week to review the studies, pending legislation, and ongoing organizational expansion. The new Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares commercial rocket is expected to commence commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia later this year along with the SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Both commercials space launch firms are under delivery contracts with NASA.

Virginia has been seeking interest in utilization of the launch pad and range facilities at the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility and state-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in recent years with passage of NewSpace state policies, duly noted by the FAA/AST and the states of Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

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