New Wallops Agreement Reached Between Virginia, Orbital ATK

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)
An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

NORFOLK, Va. (Virginia Governor’s Office PR) – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today an agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Orbital ATK regarding repair costs and insurance coverage following the October 2014 launch mishap that damaged portions of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). The agreement provides funding to complete remaining repairs to the pad as well as property insurance for future launches.

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Orbital Sciences, Virginia Settle Lawsuit Out of Court

Antares rolled out to the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)
Antares rolled out to the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

Space News reports that Orbital Sciences Corporation and the Commonwealth of Virginia have settled a lawsuit over the ownership of the transport system that carries the company’s Antares rocket from its assembly building to its launch pad on Wallops Island.

The publication reports that Virginia has agreed to take ownership of Transporter Erector Launcher. Neither side would disclose the terms of the out-of-court settlement. Orbital Sciences had been seeking for the state to purchase the vehicle for $16.5 million plus interest.

In 2010, Orbital Sciences spent $42 million to purchase the vehicle and several other assets to provide a cash infusion to Virginia, which was struggling with cost overruns in building a launch pad for Antares.

Under the purchase agreement, Virginia was to buy back these assets at a later date. The state balked at buying back the Transporter Erector Launcher, saying it would require extensive and expensive modifications for use with any other rockets that might use the same launch pad.

Orbital, Viriginia Reach New Agreement on MARS Operations


RICHMOND (Governor’s Office PR)–
Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (“VCSFA”) and Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”) have reached a new agreement to govern their working relationship and allocation of assets at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (“MARS”). Pursuant to an earlier agreement entered into in 2008, Orbital partnered with the VCSFA to develop and construct improvements to the liquid-fuel-capable launch facility at MARS in order to accommodate launches of Orbital’s Antares™ rocket. These improvements are expected to be completed later this month.

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Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Hires New Executive Director

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Wallops Island, Virg. (VirginiAviation PR) –- The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) Board of Directors today announced the selection of Dale K. Nash to serve as the Authority’s new Executive Director beginning July 31, 2012. Mr. Nash will replace Dr. Billie Reed, who has served as Executive Director since the VCSFA was established in July 1995.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said, “We are very excited to have Dale join the VCSFA team. His years of experience in the aerospace industry will be a tremendous boost to the Authority as it works to become the number one commercial space port in the U.S. With his leadership, the Commonwealth can seize upon the tremendous advantages we have in the aerospace industry to grow the VCSFA and create much needed economic development and jobs.”

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Virginia to Provide $7.5 Million to Revamped Commercial Space Authority

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

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The revamped Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority will receive $7.5 million annually in transportation funding under a measure approved by the Legislature. The funding will be used to develop the growing Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island.

Legislators also approved other changes designed to give the Authority a stronger focus, including a smaller board of directors and the creation of a strategic plan.

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Virginia Gov. Wants to Boost MARS Spending, Restructure Space Flight Authority

Left to right: Chief of Staff Martin Kent; Christyl Johnson, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, Goddard Space Flight Center; Bill Wrobel, Director, Wallops Flight Facility; Governor Bob McDonnell; David Thompson, CEO, Orbital Sciences Corporation; and Les Kovacs, Wallops Site Manager, Orbital Sciences Corporation. (Credit: Virginia Governor's Office)

Outlining his budget proposal to state legislators, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed spending an additional $4 million on the state-run spaceport on Wallops Island and restructuring the body that oversees it.

“We should also be at the forefront of another growing part of the private sector: the space industry. We will introduce legislation to restructure the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and turn it into a true independent agency to develop the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport into the number one commercial space flight facility in the nation, and we have added $4 million in targeted new spaceport investments in the budget,” McDonnell said in prepared remarks.

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Virginia Proposal: Bury Your Dead in Space, Get a Tax Deduction

Virginia has been aggressive in coming up with tax incentives for commercial space companies to locate within the Commonwealth. The latest one not only reaches beyond the Earth but beyond the grave as well: (Cue spooky Halloween music)

Individual income tax deduction for certain purchases from space flight entities. Provides an individual income tax deduction in the amount paid for a prepaid contract entered into with a commercial space flight entity to place the taxpayer’s cremated remains in earth or lunar orbit. The deduction shall not exceed $8,000 in total and shall not exceed $2,500 in any one tax year. The bill is effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, but before January 1, 2021.

That is a summary of a bill introduced by Del. Terry G. Kilgore. The catch is that the flights must take place from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. Memorial flights from spaceports outside of Virginia are not eligible.

A Texas company, Celestis, is the only company I know of to offer these services. Celestis has launched remains into space on orbital and suborbital rockets from various spaceports over the years.

Study Recommends Measures to Boost Virginia’s Space Industry Competitiveness

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

A new analysis shows that Virginia’s diverse space industry is highly competitive with those in other states, and it makes a half dozen recommendations on how the Commonwealth can improve its standing with additional government and private spending.

“The Commonwealth’s industry diversity is a major advantage in the future growth of the industry. These space assets currently align in a way that with a number of strategic financial investments, Virginia’s already robust space presence can be tailored to foster development over the coming decades,” reads the 32-page report written by the Performance Management Group @ Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Virginia Looks to Boost Wallops Island Commercial Spaceport

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

GOV. McDONNEL PR – RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell today released a study on the economic competitiveness of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA).  The study, commissioned in response to the 2011 Virginia Appropriation Act, reviewed the governance, organization and competitive landscape for the VCSFA in order to identify the necessary steps to make the Mid Atlantic Spaceport (MARS), located on Wallops Island, the best commercial space launch facility in the country.  The study was conducted by KPMG Corporate Finance.

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Eastern Shore Looks for Space Activities to Help Boost Tourism

Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Public officials and business leaders in Virginia’s Eastern Shore are looking for increased space activities on Wallops Island to help boost tourism throughout the region. The enthusiasm was on display at a hearing last week concerning a plan by Accomack County to raise taxes on the lodging industry:

Chincoteague business owner Steve Potts said of recent local tourism developments including the prospect of space tourism, “The opportunities we have before us are probably the most exciting thing since Misty hit the beach.”
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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.

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Virginia Spaceflight Funding Bill Heads to the Governor

Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Jack Kennedy tells me that a measure to earmark funding for the Virginiia Commercial Space Flight Authority has passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 89-8 after being approved unanimously by the Senate. The measure now heads to Gov. Robert McDonnell for his signature.
The bill earmarks any state income tax generated by human space flight or human space flight training to be directed to the space authority. The measure was supported by Virginia-based Space Adventures because it would direct taxes that it pays to the state toward improving facilities on Wallops Island that it might use for its activities. Space Adventures has said that it will not directly fund infrastructure improvements.

Space Legislation Makes Way Through Virginia Legislature

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

An update from Jack Kennedy on space-related bills making their way through the Virginia Legislature:

1)  Senate Bill 1447 – Senator William Wampler – Passed Senate 40-0 Passed House Finance Subcommittee #1 11-1 –Most likely On Full Committee Docket for 2-14-2011 Corporate tax revenues generated by commercial spaceflight; Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.  Credits to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority the portion of corporate income tax collected from corporations attributable to the sale of commercial human spaceflights and spaceflight training. The credit to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority begins on July 1, 2010, and lasts through fiscal year 2015.
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+sum+SB1447

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Virginia Bill Would Direct Tax Revenues to Commercial Space Development

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

Jack Kennedy informs me that there’s a move afoot in the Virginia Legislature to direct tax dollars generated by commercial human space entities in the state to support the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and development of the Wallops Island spaceport. The provision in Senate Bill 1447 reads:

Income tax paid by commercial space flight entities.

Beginning July 1, 2011, and for each fiscal year thereafter, the net revenue generated by the corporate income taxes paid by corporations that engage in commercial human spaceflights or commercial spaceflight training shall be transferred to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, established pursuant to Article 2 (2.2-2201 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of Title 2.2. The Tax Commissioner shall make a written certification to the Comptroller within 15 days of the close of each calendar quarter providing an estimate of the net revenue generated by the corporate income taxes paid by the corporations that engage in commercial human spaceflights or commercial spaceflight training in the calendar quarter. Not later than 30 days after the close of each quarter, the Comptroller shall transfer to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority an amount from the general fund that is equal to the estimate provided by the Tax Commissioner.

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Aerospace Contributes $7.6 Billion to Virginia’s Economy

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

A new report indicates that aerospace contributed $7.6 billion in economic output and 28,110 jobs to the state of Viriginia in 2009. The report, “Virginia’s Aerospace Industry: An Economic Impact Analysis,” was prepared for the Virginia Department of Aviation by Chmura Economics & Analyics, LLC in collaboration with the Performance Management Group at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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