Later this morning NASA is scheduled to launch two sounding rockets at the Wallops Flight Facility in Chincoteague Island, Virginia. The launches were scrubbed yesterday because of weather complications. What is the big deal about the story? Well, it is not Florida, it is Virginia.
Growing up in Florida and having seen many space shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, I can’t help but be a little nostalgic. OK, it is not a space shuttle launch. But the space shuttle has also been retired, as has that program.
Virginia has been building its outer space program for many years. The Virginia Wallops Island Flight facility has been around longer than NASA. It is now one of the country’s leading outer space research outposts. There have been more than 16,000 launches here. And a lot more to come.
Virginia also is home to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a flagship project of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. There are also several commercial space tourism companies located in Virginia including Space Adventures.
Virginia, along with one or two other states, will pioneer the future of space travel and exploration. Virginia should take the lead.
Today’s launch will be broadcast live. In the meantime, below is a 2009 video clip from a Virginia House of Delegates speech on Virginia’s future in outer space: