Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, sent a letter on Monday to the Accomack County Board of Supervisors to pledge his support for Orbital's Taurus II rocket project at Wallops Island. Norm Bobczynski, the Orbital Sciences Corp. launch site manager, appeared before the Accomack County Board of Supervisors last week to brief them on the progress of Orbital's Taurus II rocket project.
In the letter, Sen. Deeds expressed his interest in the project and his excitement at the new economic possibilities it could bring to the Eastern Shore and the rest of the commonwealth. Sen. Deeds will be visiting the Eastern Shore later this week.
"The Orbital Science Corporation's decision to stage their launches to the International Space Station from Wallops will create hundreds of jobs, many paying more than $100,000 per year, with a total economic impact of $250 million," wrote Deeds. "With the right leadership, Orbital's eight-year contract with NASA will be part of a larger effort to help Wallops continue to grow."
Deeds was an early supporter of expanding space projects on Wallops Island. Sen. Deeds supported the spaceport at Wallops Island through NASA and through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), including the Zero G Zero Tax Act of 2008 and the Virginia Space Liability and Immunity Act of 2007. Deeds supported strengthening the Aerospace Advisory Council and entering into a partnership with Maryland to create the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which then-Gov. Mark Warner did with then-Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich in 2003.
Additionally, Sen. Deeds pledged his continued support for economic endeavors like Wallops Island at the Homestead Debate on July 25th. "We must pursue the exciting economic opportunities of the future. Whether it's expanding our spaceport to the Eastern Shore or making Virginia the national leader in the development of alternative and renewable energy or pursuing the medical hope and economic promises of stem cell research here in Virginia," Deeds said.
In his letter, Sen. Deeds committed to:
Strongly support MARS and efforts to expand commercial space flight operations from Wallops, including providing state funding to support the base operations of MARS.
Enter into a new Memorandum of Agreement with Maryland to continue the multi-state cooperative arrangement that has been critical to the success of MARS.
Work closely with Senators Warner and Webb and federal officials to attract new aerospace industries and jobs to MARS.
Pursue opportunities to expand spaceport tourism and other ancillary services to create more jobs and enhance the economic benefits of MARS.