Wallops Island, Virginia May Plan Major Role in Orbital Sciences Program

NASA’s decision to award $170 million in COTS funding to Orbital Sciences Corporation could prove to be a big boost to Virginia’s efforts to establish a commercial spaceport on Wallops Island.

The Dulles, Virginia-based company is leaning toward working with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and the state’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to demonstrate its new Taurus II rocket by 2010. If the program is successful, it could make Virginia’s Eastern Shore a major commercial space center.

“This is a real opportunity to see that happen. It’s significant,” said Billie Reed, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority.

The Virginian-Pilot has more on the Virginia angle. Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel reports that although Orbital Sciences is leaning toward launching out of its home state, it has not closed the door on flights from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. KSC officials recently announced they were open to allowing private companies to build launch sites at the facility.