Efforts Underway to Attract Tourists for Wallops Rocket Launches

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

PRESS RELEASE — Tourism officials from Virginia Beach to southern Delaware will gather April 5 to discuss utilizing upcoming launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to attract visitors to the mid-Atlantic region.

During the luncheon meeting, the nearly 50 officials will learn about the upcoming Department of Defense ORS-1 satellite launch from MARS at WFF, on a Minotaur 1 rocket this spring or summer and will discuss how to use this and other launches this summer as an additional attraction to visitors in the region.

The group has been meeting for nearly two years to discuss the marketing potential of “America’s First Space Coast” with traditional marketing themes they have used in the past.  The area is widely known for its beaches and natural attractions. The group wants to take advantage of the rocket launches from Wallops as another activity that would attract visitors to the area.

Speaking during the luncheon at Wright’s Restaurant in Atlantic, Va., will be

  • Valerie Skarupa, Special Assistant to the Director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense;
  • Julie Mears, Marketing Communications Manager, Goodrich ISR Systems; and
  • Vicki Cox, Senior Communications Manager for ATK Aerospace Systems.

In addition to the Minotaur 1 launch, there are several NASA suborbital sounding rockets expected to be launched this year from Wallops. Also, Orbital Sciences Corporation is expected to conduct the first launch of its Taurus II launch vehicle later this year.

A steering committee has been formed to distribute the Wallops and MARS launch data and other information to the region’s hospitality industry, organizations and public officials. Liaisons from NASA Wallops and the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport will be working closely with the steering committee.

Steering Committee Members:


Keith A. Koehler, Sr. Public Affairs Officer, NASA Wallops Flight Facility

Laurie Naismith, Dir. Government Relations & Public Affairs, VCSFA/MARS


Donna Bozza, Director, Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism

Lynn Lochen, VTC, Tourism Marketing/Development Specialist

Suzanne Taylor, Executive Director, Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce


Lisa Challenger, Tourism Director, Worcester County

Susan Jones, Executive Director, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association

Kathleen McLain, General Manager, WMDT-TV, Salisbury, Md.  + Greater Salisbury Committee


Scott Thomas, Director of Southern Delaware Tourism

Donna Bozza, Director
Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission

Take a mini-Shore vacation with video on www.esvatourism.org