Competitive Analysis of Virginia's Space Flight Industry Released

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Virginia's Spaceport One of Four in U.S. to Launch Vehicles into Orbit

RICHMOND - A prime location for orbital launches and a trajectory path over the Atlantic Ocean position the Commonwealth's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport for tremendous growth over the next few years. Governor Bob McDonnell outlined the study today called, Competitive Analysis of Virginia's Space Industry, at the 15th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference held in Washington, D.C. The study details the Commonwealth's space landscape and gives recommendations and strategies to move the program forward.

"Virginia is poised to become a leader in commercial space launch operations and our efforts will be enhanced by the implementation of these recommendations," said Governor McDonnell. "As one of only four spaceports in the U.S. licensed to launch vehicles into orbit, we can only gain by promoting a robust space industry in the Commonwealth."

The study analyzed Virginia's space assets related to commercial, civil, national security and research capabilities. Key points among the results include:

* Virginia is one of only four FAA-licensed spaceports in the nation licensed to launch vehicles into orbit.

* The launch trajectory from the site is primarily over ocean and avoids populated areas, whereas competitors' trajectories cross over population-dense locations. This is a financial advantage to private companies because costs are much lower for a launch with a low-risk trajectory.

* The Wallops Island location provides optimal access to the orbit used by the International Space Station, creating multiple opportunities for private company launches.

* Virginia ranks first in the nation in the number of scientists and engineers as a percentage of the total workforce.

* The National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) headquartered in Chantilly, makes Virginia the primary state for intelligence-related space funding and operations.

Recommendations from the analysis include funding improvements to infrastructure at the Wallops Island facilities, developing a space research center in the Hampton Roads area, and maximizing existing manufacturing resources in the region to support future growth.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island and provides launch facilities for public- and private-sector customers utilizing the infrastructure and facilities of MARS and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Range for launch operations.

The full report may be viewed at: http://www.transportation.virginia.gov/

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