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New Era Begins for Virginia’s Commercial Aerospace Industry

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and a Northern Virginia company have finalized a plan to launch rockets from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced the agreement with Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corporation regarding the launch site on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“The partnership with Orbital will kick off a new era of commercial aerospace activity in Virginia,” states Governor McDonnell. “As the U.S. space program increases its reliance on the commercial sector, these types of partnerships not only help keep America competitive in the space industry, but help create much-needed jobs and economic development. VCSFA’s successful completion of the MARS spaceport development project and the impending commencement of on-pad operations, positions Virginia for continued growth in this vibrant high-tech market.”

As part of the agreement, Orbital will launch ten Antares missions from MARS, including one test flight, one demonstration flight, and eight resupply missions to the International Space Station. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer shares that “this new agreement with the VCSFA demonstrates the type of partnership that will be critical to the future success of the commercial aerospace industry in the United States.”

“MARS is one of only four commercial facilities licensed in the U.S. to launch rockets into orbit,” said VCFSA Executive Director Dale Nash. “Our partnership with Orbital not only expands our launch capabilities, but demonstrates to the entire space community that Virginia is a leader in the commercial aerospace industry.”

WCVE Public Radio correspondent Charles Fishburne is joined by Orbital’s Vice President for Communication, Barron Beneski, as they explain a simulated flight of the Antares rocket and its Cygnus vehicle, ferrying supplies to the International Space Station from Virginia’s Eastern Shore