Buried in a 71-page report released by Gov.
The report suggests that
By removing Orbital's representation, the board can "avoid perceived conflict on interest concerns by potential customers" and "provide a level playing field for all customers."
The suggestion has merits — competing aerospace companies, such as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or
But state officials, chiefly the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority, do not want to alienate Orbital. The company, after all, chose Wallops instead of Florida’s space coast to base its $1.9 billion
In a phrase: the spaceport's expansion is due largely to Orbital securing that contract.
Still, state officials are moving to limit Orbital's power.
The northern Virginia-based company has only one member on the board; down from two this summer. The board can't jettison the remaining member — a very vocal Jeffrey Windland — until it revisits the agreement it reached with Orbital years ago to bring the ISS program to Wallops.
Under terms of that agreement, Orbital determines who uses the spaceport's launch facilities and when — again, a potential deterrent to attracting other aerospace companies, the report notes.
Why does this matter? Orbital is projected by Dec. 31 to have created 125 jobs at Wallops that pay $100,000 or more. Additional businesses will create additional good-paying jobs.
The report concludes that the board, and by extension Virginia, is at a tipping point. It can maintain the status quo with "low capital investment" at the spaceport or move more aggressively and incur the "potential payoffs/associated risks of a new market." Another option is a blending of the two.