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.


Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Bill Approved by Senate Committee

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

Jack Kennedy reports that a bill that direct tax revenues from Virginia companies engaged in commercial human spaceflights or commercial spaceflight training to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority has been reported out of the Senate Finance Committee.


New Wine to Celebrate Virginia’s Wallops Island Spaceport

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia


The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and Holly Grove Vineyards are pleased to announce  ‘Genesis’,  a new Virginia wine, with a very unique wine  label celebrating the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and Virginia’s return to space.  Billie Reed, the Space Authority’s Executive Director will give ‘Genesis’ to his NASA hosts when he attends the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery in Florida, scheduled for November 1, 2010.


Virginia Could Lead the Way in Commercial Space

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Space technology leadership rests with Va. delegation
by Jack Kennedy

Russia, China and India either have, or will have, vibrant human space launch capabilities by before the close of the next decade. The Russians and the Chinese will have multiple human to orbit capable space launch facilities by mid-decade now under construction.

If America is to continue as a leader is space technology, scientific research, and exploration, NASA needs a new and inspiring leadership role that abdicates the role of monopoly access provider to low earth orbit. NASA needs a strong commercial space launch sector regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Senate measure provides it while the House measure simply does not.


Wallops Island Could Host Human Space Flights

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Virginia Business has an interesting story on the commercial launch potential of Wallops Island in Virginia, which includes possible human launches aboard Atlas V by Bigelow Aerospace:

Over the next five years, the company will make eight launches of the Taurus II from Wallops, as part of a $1.9 billion contract Orbital has with NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The Orbital deal is nice, and there are even bigger prizes out there. The decades-long effort to let the private sector handle much of what NASA has traditionally done is gaining momentum. The Obama administration gave the idea a big push this year in its NASA budget proposal, which calls for outsourcing to private companies the delivery of supplies — and maybe some day crew members — to the space station.


Mikulski: Wallops Becoming the Southwest Airlines of Space

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Here’s an interesting quote from Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski which was included in a press release issued after Gov. Martin O’Malley toured the Wallops Flight Facility on Monday.

“Wallops Island Flight Facility is home to American innovation. I fought to keep jobs at the Wallops Flight Facility and I will continue to fight to create the jobs of the future. Today we can see our investment in innovation is paying off, as Wallops becomes the Southwest Airlines of space: a lower cost, safer way to launch.”

The full press release after the break.


Maryland Governor Tours Wallops Island

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

WMDT-47 News has an interesting story the shows the importance of Wallops Island in Virginia to the Maryland economy:

On Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley will tour the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, one of the oldest launch sites in the world. NASA and the other organizations at Wallops, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) employ approximately 1,800 civilian positions, including government and contractor jobs, 700 of which are held by Marylanders…


The Case for Wallops Island as a Commercial Spaceport

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Guest blogger Jack Kennedy, who edits the Spaceports blog, makes the case for Virginia’s Wallops Island to play a major role in NASA’s new commercial space policy in this op-ed piece, which ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on April 21. Kennedy is a former State Assemblyman who serves on the executive committee of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, which governs the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. This essay is reprinted with the author’s permission.


By Jack Kennedy

Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell has been consistent in his vision to make Virginia’s commercial spaceport the best in the nation, most notably with his recent budget amendment to increase the operations budget for the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority; he is to be commended.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is now being readied for commercial space launches to haul supplies and cargo to the International Space Station beginning next year, following the aging space shuttle’s retirement. The first launch of the yet-to-be-tested Taurus-2 booster with the Cygnus spacecraft will mark not only the beginning of a new era in Virginia but the dawn of the commercial space age in America.


New Virginia Governor Endorses Wallops Island Spaceport

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

In a speech delivered to a joint session of the Virginia legislator, new Gov. Bob McDonnell gave strong support to predecessor Tim Kaine’s efforts to turn Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport into a major commercial space base.

Governor Kaine committed to invest $1.3 million in the Virginia Spaceport. We can make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, and I ask you to keep that money in place so that we can aggressively recruit aerospace companies and promote space tourism initiatives.

Orbital Sciences Corporation will launch its Taurus II rockets from the facility. The rockets will carry Cygnus freighters that will resupply the International Space Station.

The state is hoping to attract other launch providers and space tourism companies to the Wallops Island launch complex.

Look Out Cape Canaveral! Here Comes Wallops

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

Meeting to focus on long-term Wallops vision

A diverse group of politicians, professors and aerospace industry representatives is meeting Wednesday in Richmond to formulate a long-term vision for Wallops’ space complex.

A draft version of that vision includes the idea that it will become “the aerospace provider of choice for the Northeast region.”


Tumlinson Hired to Promote Wallops Island for Space Tourism


Expert sees space tourists, businesses, hotels in area

Rick Tumlinson envisions humans launched into space from Wallops Island in the not-too-distant future.

Tumlinson is the man who signed up Dennis Tito, the world’s first space tourist, who spent over a week in orbit in 2001 and reportedly paid up to $20 million for the trip on a Russian rocket.