Study assesses opportunities for the space and aerospace industry around NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
Baltimore, MD, February 20, 2014 (Maryland DBED PR) – Governor Martin O’Malley today released the Unmanned Aerial & Space Systems & Launch Industry Feasibility Study, which identifies opportunities for investment and growth in aerospace and space on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. The study was funded by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and prepared by LJT & Associates, Columbia, Md., for the Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore.
“Space is more than just ‘the final frontier’ for scientific exploration – it is a promising economic frontier for our nation, for our state, and, as this study attests, for our Lower Eastern Shore,” said Governor O’Malley. “With Maryland residents comprising nearly 50 percent of its workforce, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has had a significant impact on the economy of the Lower Shore for more than six decades. This feasibility study outlines the potential for further development of the industry around Wallops, attracting new businesses to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, creating jobs for Marylanders and strengthening the nation’s space science and exploration capabilities.”
Located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, just five miles from the Maryland border, Wallops has an economic impact of more than $188 million and generates 2,341 jobs for the Lower Eastern Shore region. Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) is the only launch range owned and managed exclusively by NASA.
In January, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) awarded a five-year contract to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to support missions launching from Wallops. This contract is expected to generate additional commercial opportunities on the Lower Shore.
Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) launches and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) test and development have driven much of the recent growth at NASA Wallops Space Flight Center. Commercial space flight and the emerging UAS industry continue to provide Wallops with future growth opportunities. Unmanned Aerial & Space Systems & Launch Industry Feasibility Study identifies specific areas of potential investment to spur additional growth in these industries at WFF.
Increasing the scale of activity at Wallops would have a significant impact on the Lower Eastern Shore, drawing suppliers, building demand for skilled workers, and accelerating tourism. The study:
- Examines the necessary infrastructure investments to accommodate multiple payloads;
- Considers the potential investments required to serve a nascent UAS industry that would use Wallops, facilities in Southern Maryland and the broader region;
- Offers an overview of existing tourism activity and proposes a marketing plan to promote greater interest in witnessing ELV launches; and
- Inventories ongoing development of space-related curriculum at the region’s institutions of higher education and links growth of these programs to expanded capacity at Wallops.
Unmanned Aerial & Space Systems & Launch Industry Feasibility Study and its recommendations suggest that renewed coordination between Maryland and Virginia, and between federal agencies and commercial interests in space and aerospace, will drive growth in and around Wallops and the Lower Shore.
“The Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland is grateful to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for funding this very timely study on the potential positive financial impact of the current and future activities at the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility,” said Executive Director Michael P. Pennington. “As one of only four locations in the United States authorized to launch vehicles into orbit – and with the existing partnerships with the Navy, NOAA, and the private sector – WIFF is positioned to play a key role in expanding economic opportunity on the Lower Shore and the entire State of Maryland.”
DBED, the Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore, and LJT & Associates partnered with the Greater Salisbury Committee, Salisbury University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, and the economic development offices in Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties to develop this study and a strategic plan for the industry. The full report is available online at Unmanned Aerial & Space Systems & Launch Industry Feasibility Study
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing workforce training and financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State’s many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. For more information, visit www.ChooseMaryland.org.
ABOUT TRI-COUNTY COUNCIL OF THE LOWER EASTERN SHORE:
The Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland was formed by an Act of the Maryland General Assembly in 2001. The purpose of the Council is to facilitate regional planning and development in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties. The Council membership is made up of municipal, county and state elected officials as well as the county administrators from the three counties. For more information, visit www.LowerShore.org.