Virginia and Dyncorp team up to build a spaceport at NASA site

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.—Virginia has entered a joint venture with Dyncorp
of Reston, Va., to develop and operate the $12 million Virginia Commercial Space Flight
Center.


Dyncorp will provide $4.5 million in operational support to the spaceport. The
spaceport will include a new computer infrastructure for satellite launches.


Dyncorp and Virginia will have to come up with $4.5 million more for the vertical
service tower and the fueling and encapsulation facility, said Billie Reed, executive
director of the center.


Dyncorp and Virginia have not decided on the systems architecture for the launch
control center, said Charlene Wheeless, Dyncorp’s director of corporate
communications.


Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore last week unveiled a model of the new commercial spaceport
launch pad in a hangar at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Sen. Charles S. Robb
(D-Va.), Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and NASA administrator Dan Goldin were on hand for
the unveiling.


“The sky is not the limit. The stars are,” Goldin said.


The spaceport will include a 200-foot service tower, an environmental control system, a
clean room for payload and satellite work, and an elevator for personnel and light
equipment. Virginia officials hope the spaceport will bring $60 million in investments and
create 300 new jobs for Virginia’s Eastern Shore, many of them in the information
technology industry.


The state will finish building the launch pad next month and launch satellites in small
to midsize rockets by mid-2000. The spaceport will be one of three licensed commercial
spaceports in the United States.


“The development of the Virginia Space Flight Center is an integral part of
NASA’s vision for the future of the Wallops Flight Facility,” Goldin said.


NASA’s Wallops Mission 2000 brings together federal and state government, private
industry and academia to launch satellites cost-effectively, Goldin said. “NASA could
not and should not do it alone,” he said.


Through a contract with Virginia, NASA has the right to use the Wallops Flight Facility
to launch orbital and sub-orbital payloads. Joint venture officials hope to attract launch
customers to the Virginia center rather than competing ports in Florida and
California. 

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