Chincoteague Reports received the following article from Laurie Naismith, Director Government Relations & Public Affairs of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority www.marsspaceport.com
By Bill Geroux
Richmond Times Dispatch
The lives of the astronauts on the International Space Station will depend on supplies launched on rockets from Virginia's Eastern Shore.
A Northern Virginia aerospace company won a $1.9 billion contract from NASA yesterday to fly cargo missions to the space station from a launch site on Virginia's Wallops Island.
Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles is to conduct eight resupply missions to the space station between 2011 and 2015, after the scheduled retirement of the space shuttle. Each delivery would involve up to 20 tons of supplies.
The launches would take place at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops, near the Virginia-Maryland border, where Orbital Sciences has successfully launched rockets before. The company said it planned to build new facilities at Wallops for the space-station project.
In a news release, Orbital Sciences said it plans to combine its Cygnus maneuvering space vehicle and a Taurus II launch vehicle now being developed with NASA. The contract also calls for the spacecraft to perform "non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary."
"We are very appreciative of the trust NASA has placed with us to provide commercial cargo transportation services to and from the International Space Station, beginning with our demonstration flight scheduled in late 2010," said David W. Thompson, Orbital's chairman and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement.
The contract also calls for delivery of "non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary."
Orbital will share the job of resupplying the space station with a California company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which won a $1.6 billion contract for 12 other missions.
The NASA contract is the largest for the regional spaceport, jointly supported by Virginia and Maryland, which has tried for years to capture a piece of the commercial space business. A rocket built by Orbital Sciences accomplished the first successful launch from the spaceport in 2006.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who gave Orbital Sciences state money to expand in Virginia, said in a statement that the NASA contract is "great news for Virginia and particularly for the people of the Eastern Shore."
At the least, rocket launches from Wallops will fill motels and restaurants along the northern Eastern Shore. But Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said Orbital also planned to invest in new facilities at Wallops.
Orbital said preparations for the launches also will take place at its facilities in Dulles and Arizona, and that the first-stage engines of the Taurus II would be tested at a NASA facility in Mississippi.
NASA said in a statement it will closely monitor the progress of the contracts, which it said "will fulfill NASA's need to procure cargo delivery services to the space station using a U.S. commercial carrier after the retirement of the space shuttle."
Laurie Naismith, Director
Government Relations & Public Affairs
Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority
4111 Monarch Way
Norfolk, Virginia 23508