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FAA Announces Commercial Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia

Federal Aviation Administration
Washington, D.C.

APA 5-98

Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: 202-267-8521

FAA Licenses Third Commercial Spaceport

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a
space launch site operator's license to the Virginia Commercial Space
Flight Authority to operate a commercial spaceport at NASA's Wallops
Flight Facility (WFF) at Wallops Island, Va.

"The approval of this new spaceport demonstrates the dynamic and
growing state of the commercial space industry," said FAA Acting
Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Patricia
Grace Smith. "The FAA intends to work with these facilities and the entire
industry to make sure the U.S. commercial space industry is the safest in
the world."

Virginia joins California and Florida as states with commercially or state
operated space launch facilities.  The FAA previously issued commercial
space launch site operator's licenses for spaceports on leased property at
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.
The Virginia facility will operate under a similar arrangement with NASA.

Like its two predecessors, the Virginia Space Flight Center will focus on
small to medium rockets up to the Athena III and Taurus XL class of
vehicles used primarily to launch low earth orbit (LEO) communications
satellites.  LEO satellites orbit at altitudes between 100 miles and a
distance required for geostationary orbits of 22,300 miles.  Demand for
that type of launch is increasing as a number of firms are competing to
establish constellations of LEO satellites providing global mobile
communications systems.

The facility will consist of two launch pads, one currently operational and
the other under construction, a payload processing and integration
building and a launch operator office building. The Virginia Commercial
Space Flight Authority is anticipating a first launch in the spring of 1999.

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