Virginia Governor Signs Legislation to Bolster Wallops Island Spaceport

Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that will direct revenues generated by commercial spaceflight activities within the state toward expanding the Wallops Island spaceport. The measure currently impacts only one firm, Space Adventures.

“It is my goal to make Wallops Island the best spaceport in America and this legislation will direct revenue generated by commercial spaceflight to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority encouraging significant growth of the aerospace industry in the Commonwealth,” McDonnell said in a statement.

Space Adventures has expressed interest in using the expanding spaceport facility on the Eastern Shore; however, the company has said it will not pay for infrastructure improvements and expects the state to pick up the tab. The new law directs tax revenues the company pays toward those improvements.

The measure is part of Gov. McDonnell’s “Opportunity at Work” agenda that is designed to improve the business climate in the state. He also signed two other measures designed to help fund tourism projects and ease the burden on new businesses.

“Economic development and job creation remains my top priority,” McDonnell said. “Over the last year and a half Virginia’s unemployment rate has dropped over one percent and we have added 64,900 net new jobs.  But there is more work to be done to help every Virginian get a good-paying, quality job.  The three bills I signed today will go far to encourage job creators to choose Virginia and invest in this state.”

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, which has long been a site for launching small rockets, is undergoing an expansion. Orbital Sciences will begin launching its new Taurus II rocket from the spaceport. The rocket will carry supplies to the International Space Station under a NASA contract. Virginia officials are hoping to expand the facility to allow for suborbital and orbital flights, including human missions.