Announced Monday with the release of McDonnell's two-year budget for Virginia, the funding is subject to debate. But state lawmakers, touting potential economic development benefits, have generally been supportive of the spaceport.
"We should also be at the forefront of another growing part of the private sector: the space industry," McDonnell said in a statement issued by his office.
The authority’s biggest client is Dulles-based
Before that can happen, the state and Orbital must finish building the launch pad. Orbital spokesman Barron Beneski said it is nearly operational.
"We're getting close. We're not there yet, but we're getting close," he said.
In addition to the funding, McDonnell also said he wants to reorganize the authority. "We will introduce legislation to restructure the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and turn it into a true independent agency," he said.
That may include creating a nonprofit corporation, similar to how Virginia's marine terminals operate, to administer the spaceport. Such entities are not uncommon when quasi-state agencies mix with business, but open government proponents criticize them because they can shield the corporation from public view.