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NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore, where Old Dominion University operates the Virginia Space Flight Center partnership, will receive an additional $10 million in funding due largely to the efforts of the university and its Space Flight Center partners.

According to Billie Reed, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and the Virginia Space Flight Center and assistant professor of engineering management at Old Dominion, Congress recently passed a bill that directs NASA to spend an additional $10 million for infrastructure improvement and technology upgrades to ensure the Wallops facility remains a viable asset for NASA's use. President Bush is expected to sign it into law soon.

"The bill contains significant breakthroughs and funding for aerospace in Virginia," Reed said. "Some of the funding is a result of almost two years of work by Virginia Space Flight Center partners in trying to obtain specific federal support for Virginia aerospace facilities, projects and activities. Old Dominion's strong support for the authority and the Virginia Space Flight Center partnership since its inception has been a key enabler in making this federal support happen."

While specific language directing NASA to conduct particular programs at Wallops was deleted from the bill in the Conference Committee, Reed noted that it does require NASA to submit by next March a strategic plan for Wallops, including future NASA missions and other business opportunities. "This planning report offers the opportunity to reintroduces specific initiatives."

Established in 1995, the Virginia Space Flight Center offers low-cost, safe and reliable space launch facilities and services for commercial, government and scientific/academic users. The center's partners include Old Dominion, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, NASA, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology and DynSpace. Reed expects the first rocket launch sometime next year.

"The $10 million to be spent on infrastructure at Wallops represents a major victory and strong vote of confidence for Wallops by the Maryland and Virginia federal delegations. It will provide a major surge in the economy of the Eastern Shore and all of Virginia," Reed said.

This article was posted on: November 16, 2001

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