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The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), a partnership between Old Dominion University, NASA and the states of Virginia and Maryland, received a $49 million contract from the United States Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center Detachment 12.

The five-year contract, the largest ever awarded to MARS, is for commercial spaceport facilities and services to launch satellites and spacecraft for the Air Force and other government agencies. MARS, formerly the Virginia Space Flight Center and owned and operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSPA), was one of only three commercially licensed U.S. Spaceports to receive a commercial spaceport services contract award from the Air Force.

According to Billie Reed, assistant professor of engineering management at Old Dominion and director of the VCSFA, the authority will provide launch facilities and services to the Air Force, when ordered, for launch of small- to mid-class launch vehicles and spacecraft. Launches will require about one year of advance planning, coordination and preparation and will take place at MARS, located on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.

The initial contract award is for an $18,500 MARS capability study to assess the facility's ability to conduct launches on an accelerated launch schedule and to launch the larger Peacekeeper-based launch vehicle.

This article was posted on: November 5, 2004

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