WASHINGTON Mark Warner/Tim Kaine PR) – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $96,425 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Wallops Island. The grant was awarded through the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway grant program.
“We are glad to see these federal dollars go towards helping equip MARS with the resources it needs to continue to carry out important operations and research,” said the Senators. “We have no doubt that with this funding, this facility will continue to help boost our nation’s competitiveness in aeronautics.”
“Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is pleased to learn through Senator Warner’s office that grant funding was awarded from the America’s Marine Highway Program to fund the design and engineering of a new dock/ramp located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Unmanned Systems Airfield on Wallops Island. MARAD should be applauded for leaning forward, uniquely leveraging funds to enhance the M-95 highway by embracing Virginia’s Spaceport and its vision to become a truly intermodal hub with access via Land, Space, Air, and now Sea,” said Virginia Space CEO and Executive Director Dale Nash.
The funding will be used to design a new 520’ long x 30’ wide access trestle and combination dock/ramp to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at MARS. In addition, funds will be used for engineering and consulting services for the integration of the MARS Port with the UAS runway on the north end of Wallops Island.
The Marine Highway Program seeks to expand the use of America’s navigable waters by working closely with public and private organizations to develop and expand marine highway service options and facilitate their further integration into the current U.S. surface transportation system, especially where water-based transport is the most efficient, effective and sustainable option. It also works to highlight the benefits, increase public awareness and promote waterways as a viable (in some cases a superior) alternative to “landside” shipping and transportation options.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime advocates of Virginia’s space launch facilities. In 2014, the Senators secured $20 million in funding for Wallops Flight Facility to support repairs following a launch failure in October 2014 that caused significant damage to a MARS launch pad. Additionally, last April, Sen. Warner was joined by Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in touring MARS Pad 0A and a newly-constructed MARS payload processing facility on Wallops Flight Facility. Senator Kaine also toured the facility last May, where he met with Wallops staff to discuss infrastructure improvements in preparation for upcoming missions, construction on the Rocket Lab’s launch pad, and new capabilities at the airfield. Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, has also introduced bipartisan legislation to support innovation, research and development in the aeronautics industry occurring at Wallops.