Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) and Orbital Sciences Corporation recently signed a second Memorandum of Understanding, outlining their partnership to develop and improve the liquid-fuel-capable launch facility at Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).
This public-private partnership indicates Virginia is at the forefront of the latest developments in aerospace—the growth of the commercial space sector. Virginia’s space industry is substantial, currently delivering $7.6 billion in economic output and supporting 28,110 jobs, according to a recent press release from Governor McDonnell.
Over the next few years, Orbital plans to utilize the MARS launch pad for eight cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station as part of its Antares rocket program. Orbital will also use the facility for test and demonstration flights.
Located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, MARS currently operates two launch pads, one for liquid fuel vehicles and one for solid fuel vehicles. Its full service capabilities and designation as both an Enterprise Zone and Foreign Trade Zone provides commercial, government, scientific and academic customers with low-cost access to space.
MARS is one of only four commercial sites authorized by the FAA for orbital space launches. In addition, MARS offers a low-risk trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean and optimal access to the orbit of the International Space Station.
To learn more about MARS and other facilities that make up Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry, click here.