The Virginia Space Flight Center model for an integrated federal/commercial launch range

Reed, Billie M.
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1165
Academic Journal
Until 1998, the federal government has been the predominant purchaser of space launches in the U.S. through the purchase of hardware and services. Historically, the government provided the necessary infrastructure for launches from the federal DoD and NASA launch ranges. In this historical model, the federal government had complete ownership, responsibility, liability, and expense for launch activities. In 1998, commercial space launches accounted for 60% of U.S. launches. This growth in commercial launches has increased the demand for launch range services. However, the expense, complexity of activities, and issues over certification of flight safety have deterred the establishment of purely commercial launch sites, with purely commercial being defined as without benefit of capabilities provided by the federal government. Provisions of the Commercial Space Launch Act have enabled DoD and NASA to support commercial launches from government launch ranges on a cost-reimbursable, non-interference basis. The government provides services including use of facilities, tracking and data services, and range and flight safety. In the 1990’s, commercial space market projections indicated strong potential for large numbers of commercial satellites to be launched well into the first decade of the 21st century. In response to this significant opportunity for economic growth, several states established spaceports to provide the services necessary to meet these forecast commercial needs. In 1997, NASA agreed to the establishment of the Virginia Space Flight Center (VSFC), a commercial spaceport, at its Wallops Flight Facility. Under this arrangement, NASA agreed to allow the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) to construct facilities on NASA property and agreed to provide launch range and other services in accordance with the Space Act and Commercial Space Launch Act in support of VSFC launch customers. A partnership relationship between NASA and VCS...


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