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Virginia's Spaceport and Money

Of all the vertical launch Commercial Spaceports in the US, only Florida's Kennedy Space Center and Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) are hosted as part of a NASA or Air Force space installation. This makes MARS especially suited for commercial launches because it was built at low cost but shares much of the infrastructure paid for my the US Government. But after 70 years and 16,000 launches, the County where MARS is located is one of the poorest in Virginia. See the Accomack page for more details about Accomack County.

Orbital & Virginia Squabble Over Who Is Going To Pay

NASA has covered about $5 million of the repair tab, while Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK provided another $3 million. Virginia contributed too, committing roughly $3 million of the state-funded spaceflight authority’s $16 million annual operating budget.

That leaves another $2 million or so to complete repairs.


“We believe Orbital is responsible for the damage to the pad,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said in a May 12 phone interview. “We do not see it as a primary obligation of the commonwealth.”

Governor Wants Clarity on State's Liability in Rocket Disasters

The governor has expressed concern publicly over a memorandum of understanding between Orbital Sciences Corp., which developed the Antares, and the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, which oversees the spaceport and is responsible for "all non-Antares-specific assets" there.


"I want to have the full financial analysis of the deal," McAuliffe told the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this week.


“Virginia’s space industry currently contributes $7.6 billion in annual direct economic output and supports over 28,000 jobs,” McDonnell said in a Nov. 22 statement accompanying the release of the study. “Given the job creation and economic development potential surrounding MARS, I will be submitting a promotion bill this session of the General Assembly to implement the report’s recommendations.”

Accomac Properties Lose Value in 2014-2015

Accomack Property Values decline 6.8%. The process of “equalization” involves adjusting the tax rates so that the revenue derived from the real estate tax stays at a constant level from one year to the next despite changes in value of property. A tax rate increase of 2.5 per $100 in assessed value was adopted for equalization purposes. Failure to equalize the tax rates would have resulted in a decrease in the tax levy of $654,000 in fiscal year 2015, causing a reduction in services.


SOURCE: Accomack Annual Fiscal Plan 2015



How NASA Got Bullied Into Rebuilding a Spaceport

"In the aftermath of the October explosion, the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority desperately needed cash to get repair the pad and get back on track, so that the spaceport could continue to compete for ISS resupply missions. To be frank, there are more budding spaceports than there are missions to keep them open. Disasters and delays could deal Virginia out of the new industry."


So Congress forced NASA to divert dollars from other projects to pay for cleaning up Orbital's rocket launch disaster at Wallops Island spaceport in Virginia.

Virginia Urged To Increase Its Spaceport Investment

SpaceNews Staff — November 28, 2011

"To remedy this situation, the study says, MARS management should conduct a gap analysis to determine the investment required to make the infrastructure modifications needed to attract other customers to the spaceport. MARS also should structure its partnership with Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences to allow other customers to use MARS assets “as well as any assets that Virginia has paid for or financed directly or indirectly so that all parties are treated fairly.”

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MARS has all of the advantages of being associated with a Federally-funded NASA facility that can help pay for shared facilities, and accidents. Does Camden County and Georgia have the same bailout opportunity?


Even the State of Virginia did not realize that their insurance would not cover rocket crashes into their facilities costing millions. Does Camden County have better business and risk management?


If the MARS Spaceport creates thousands of jobs, why are property values decreasing in Accomack County?


What assurances does Camden County have that the State of Georgia will continue to subsidize the Spaceport if it cannot pay its own way?


What assurances do Camden County property owners and shoppers have that we will not have to continue to subsidize the Spaceport?






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