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Virginia Makes a Little Outer Space History, Again

Tired of the gloom and doom brigade and the federal government shutdown news coverage? Looking for some good news? Well, look up. Way up to the stars.

A little outer space history was made this weekend and Virginia had a big role in it. Launched from the oldest launch facility in the United States (yes, Wallops Island is older than the Cape in Florida) on September 18, the Cygnus cargo aircraft successfully docked with the space station yesterday.

So you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Jason, they delivered food and supplies to people in space. Why is this such a big deal?” It is a whole lot more than a food delivery or junk removal business. These are private sector entities helping explore outer space, not the government. These are American companies, not the Russian government entities we have had to use the past few years to access the space station. What’s not to like about that?

In addition to the supplies, the Cygnus also delivered laboratory experiments as well as a navigational software fix for the station. You can read more about the program here. Orbital Sciences of Virginia became only the second commercial company in the country, first in the state, to deliver cargo in such a manner. The other company to do so was SpaceX in California.

Most Virginians, indeed I would bet most Americans, have no idea about Virginia’s role in the future of outer space exploration. Folks would safely guess California, Texas, and of course, Florida. However, that has changed. In the not too distant future, expect to read more about Virginia and Virginia companies help lead the way in a new chapter of outer space history.

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