Wallops Island to host three upcoming orbital launches
Vector, a nanosatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, has entered into an agreement with Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space) to conduct three commercial orbital missions out of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island in the next 24 months with an option for five additional launches.
Vector also transported a Vector-R launch vehicle engineering unit from the company’s headquarters in Tucson, Ariz. to MARS, to showcase an initial set of ground and simulated propellant loading operations with an associated Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL).
“As home to one of only four spaceports in the nation that launches to orbit, the Commonwealth of Virginia is the best place to do business both on and off this planet,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We’re thrilled to welcome Vector as a customer of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. It is a testament to Virginia’s highly skilled workforce and state-of-the-art facilities for this dynamic 21st century company to choose MARS as a launch site. I am proud of the work we have done to improve and protect the MARS Spaceport and I look forward to partnering with Vector as the company continues to grow and providing a business climate that contributes to its continued success.”
The event, which included remarks from Vector’s Chief Technology Officer, John Garvey; Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Aubrey Layne; Director of Wallops Flight Facility, Bill Wrobel; and Executive Director of Virginia Space, Dale Nash, highlighted the opportunity to showcase the Vector-R launch vehicle and concept of operations (CONOPS) to key members of the Virginia Space community, stimulate discussions regarding future launch operations and familiarize Vector personnel with NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
“We are very pleased to add another launch customer at MARS,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne who also serves as the Chair of the Virginia Space Board of Directors. “The organization continues to focus strategic planning efforts on attracting new launch customers to utilize the excellent facilities and capabilities provided by Virginia Space and NASA Wallops. The addition of Vector to the launch customer portfolio helps establish Virginia as a leading industry hub and it is a great way to maximize the return on the existing Commonwealth investment at MARS.”
“When initial discussions with Vector began, we all quickly understood that this partnership would be excellent fit between Vector’s needs and the capabilities that could be provided by both MARS and NASA Wallops Flight Facility,” commented Virginia Space Executive Director & CEO Dale Nash. By leveraging the talent and expertise already present in the MARS workforce and creatively using the Spaceport assets at Pad 0B, the opportunity existed for Vector to quickly capitalize on MARS infrastructure to promote and develop their business through the contracted launch operations.” Full Release
These initial flights from MARS are part of a series of orbital launches which will further enable Vector to validate technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations, and firmly establish commercial launch sites for the future.
“This agreement with Virginia Space represents a significant milestone for Vector as we continue to deliver on our mission of making space open for business,” said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector. “Today’s events mark the start of a strong and growing partnership between Vector and Virginia Space, and we look forward to continuing our momentum with their support to get to an orbital capability in 2018.”
Founded by the original founding team of SpaceX, Vector is a disruptive company that connects space startups and innovators with dedicated, affordable and reliable launch services, enabling platforms and vehicles to access space efficiently and in a more optimized way than ever before possible. For more information, visit www.vectorspacesystems.com.
About Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and the MARS UMS Airfield, providing launch pads for ISS cargo delivery, scientific, DoD and commercial missions and a runway for drone testing. Collocated on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia, the mission of Virginia Space and MARS is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space. For more information, visit www.vaspace.org.