Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Vows Support for Virginia Spaceport

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia

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 Orbital’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 Corporation’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, Orbital’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, I’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.

Sincerely,
Creigh Deeds