Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, sent a letter to Accomack County officials pledging support for development of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. His Republican opponent, Bob McDonnell, has voiced similar support for the growing spaceport.
To the esteemed members of the Accomack County Board of Supervisors
I understand that Orbital Sciences Corporation launch site manager, Norm Bobczynski, appeared before your board last week to brief you on the progress on Orbitalâ€™s Taurus II rocket project at Wallops Island. I wanted to take this opportunity to express to you how excited I am about the economic opportunities this project presents for Accomack County, for the Eastern Shore, and for the Commonwealth as a whole. The launch of the Taurus II rocket will help attract other companies to Wallops Island and put the spaceport on the path to becoming a world-class launch facility rivaling Cape Canaveral.
As a member of the legislature, I was proud to support efforts to strengthen our spaceport at Wallops Island through NASA and through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), including the Zero G Zero Tax Act of 2008 and the Virginia Space Liability and Immunity Act of 2007. Together, we were able to strengthen the Aerospace Advisory Council and enter into a partnership with Maryland to create the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which then-Gov. Mark Warner did with then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich in 2003.
Orbital Science Corporationâ€™s decision to stage their launches to the International Space Station from Wallops will create hundreds of jobs, many paying more than $100,000 per year, with a total economic impact of $250 million. With the right leadership, Orbitalâ€™s eight-year contract with NASA will be part of a larger effort to help Wallops continue to grow.
As governor, I will
- Strongly support MARS and efforts to expand commercial space flight operations from Wallops, including providing state funding to support the base operations of MARS.
- Enter into a new Memorandum of Agreement with Maryland to continue the multi-state cooperative arrangement that has been critical to the success of MARS.
- Work closely with Senators Warner and Webb and federal officials to attract new aerospace industries and jobs to MARS.
- Pursue opportunities to expand spaceport tourism and other ancillary services to create more jobs and enhance the economic benefits of MARS.
- In addition, Iâ€™ve made Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education a focus of my economic and education plans. By making Virginia a leader in STEM education, we will help MARS become an economic engine for the Eastern Shore and the entire Hampton Roads region.
I look forward to continuing to work with you to help Wallops Island grow. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I look forward to stopping by soon.