VIRGINIA BEACH — Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) are seeking a resolution on a determination from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that could provide additional federal funding for the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority’s (VCSFA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.
In a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week, the lawmakers asked DOT to clarify its determination that deemed VCSFA ineligible for RAISE grant funding to enhance the Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) airfield with a water port. The DOT deemed VCSFA ineligible for RAISE funding after dismissing NASA’s explanation that the Commonwealth of Virginia would retain long-term ownership of any improvements made through a grant award.
“The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport provides crucial aerospace facilities and support for national security, civil, and commercial customers, including serving as one of only two U.S. sites that support resupply missions to the International Space Station,” Rep. Luria said. “I believe that the Secretary of Transportation has discretion to determine the VCSFA’s eligibility and that this issue is resolvable within the current constraints of the law. The eligibility issue will impact future grant funding rounds important to growing the U.S. commercial space sector, a vital economic engine for Coastal Virginia and national security priority, and I hope Secretary Buttigieg and DOT will conduct a thorough review.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, which is co-located with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. MARS leases land from NASA via a renewable long term Space Act Agreement.
Through this agreement, Virginia has built three vertical rocket launch pads that are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration for vertical space lift to orbit. To enable these capabilities, the Commonwealth has invested in additional support facilities, including a secure Payload Processing Facility, Integration and Control Facility and advanced command facility. Virginia has also built a UAS airfield to support the burgeoning industry, which supports Navy, Coast Guard, and commercial missions. All these assets are owned, operated, and maintained by Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
Read Rep. Luria, Sen. Warner and Sen. Kaine’s letter to Sec. Buttigieg here.