Welcome to Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA), also known as ‘Virginia Space,' is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and the MARS UMS Airfield.
Virginia Space aims to provide and is proud to offer full-service launch and drone testing facilities for commercial, government, scientific and academic users.
The mission of Virginia Space is to serve as a driver for Virginia's New Economy by providing safe, reliable, and responsive space Access at competitive prices, and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space.
Virginia Space Mourns the Loss of Valued Board Member Bittle Porterfield, III
December 3, 2019
Wallops Island—It is with great sadness that we received word of the passing of one of our Board members, Bittle Porterfield, III. Bittle passed away on November 29, 2019 in Roanoke, Virginia. Bittle began his service on the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Board of Directors on July 1, 2013. Bittle had a long history as an avid supporter of aviation and aerospace in Virginia and throughout the region, among many other areas of active interest and service. He brought that enthusiasm and wealth of experience to his service on the Board, and he will be greatly missed, even as we remember and honor his many contributions.
On behalf of the Board, the Management, and Staff of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, we extend our deepest condolences to Bittle’s wife, Charlotte and his extended family.
Chair, Virginia Space Board of Directors
Bittle Wilson Porterfield III
( March 09, 1944 - November 29, 2019 )
Bittle Wilson Porterfield III died on November 29, 2019 in Roanoke, VA. A native of Roanoke, he was born on March 9, 1944. He was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret Rice Porterfield and B. Wilson Porterfield, Jr.; and his brother, Gordon Thomas Porterfield.
Bittle is survived by his wife of 50 years, Charlotte Kelley Porterfield; his two sons Bittle Wilson Porterfield IV and wife, Holly; and Forrest Kelley Porterfield and wife, Katie; and four grandchildren, Bittle Wilson Porterfield V, Jackson Watkins Porterfield, Forrest Shepperson Porterfield, and William Hines Porterfield. Also surviving are his brother, Lawrence Chapman Porterfield and wife, Brenda, as well as his niece, Margaret Porterfield Longhouser, and nephews Chapman and Stephen Porterfield.
Bittle graduated from Roanoke College in 1968 and received his M.B.A. from Virginia Tech in 1971. He served in the United States Army from March of 1968 to March of
1970. Bittle spent most of his career working in the beverage industry with Porterfield Distributing (Beer and Wine Distribution in the Roanoke Valley) and Rice Management (Pepsi Bottling Plants in Johnson City, TN and Montgomery, AL).
Bittle loved the Roanoke Valley and was dedicated to making Roanoke and the state of Virginia better places to live. He gave his time to numerous boards and organizations, including serving as Chairman of the Roanoke Valley Business Council, the Foundation for the Roanoke Valley, and the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority. He was president of the Taubman Museum of Art and the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce. Passionate about aviation, he was the Chairman of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission, an appointed Director of the Board of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, and a member of the Virginia Aviation Board, appointed by Governor Tim Kaine. Bittle valued education and was honored when Governor Mark Warner appointed him to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. He also served as Chairman of the North Cross School Board of Trustees, was a member of the Hollins University Board of Trustees and Rector of the Radford University Board of Visitors. He served on the Boards of the Child Health Investment Partnership of the Roanoke Valley and Apple Ridge Farm.
Bittle loved golf, flying, traveling, fishing, hiking, canoeing and skiing. He was a dedicated husband, father,
grandfather and friend. Bittle split his time later in life between Roanoke and Hot Springs, VA.
The family sincerely thanks the staff at the Harmony Collection at Roanoke Memory Care and Good Samaritan Hospice for their wonderful care and kindness.
The memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 5, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Bittle was a member for more than 45 years.
There will be a reception at the church following the service. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Fralin Biomedical Institute for Brain Research at Virginia Tech-Carilion Foundation, 902 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA, 24061. Arrangements by Oakey’s Funeral Home, Roanoke, Virginia.
Twelfth Cargo Resupply Mission Heads to Space Station after Successful Launch from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
Spacecraft will deliver scientific investigations, supplies, and vehicle hardware to orbital laboratory and its crew
RICHMOND—The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility celebrate the successful launch for Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission, designated NG-12, launched today at 9:59 a.m. from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. The Commonwealth of Virginia built MARS Pad 0A to accommodate the Antares 230+ rocket configuration and Cygnus spacecraft.
NASA and its partners have supported humans continuously living off-planet since the Expedition 1 crew arrived at the ISS exactly 19 years ago on November 2, 2000. The microgravity laboratory has hosted 239 people from 19 countries, more than 2,600 experiments from 3,900 researchers in more than 107 countries, and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station also is facilitating the growth of a commercial market in low-Earth orbit for research, technology development, and crew and cargo transportation.
“With today’s launch, we celebrate the beginning of the 20th year of continuous human presence living aboard the International Space Station and the strong partnerships that have shaped a promising future for space flight in Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “The investments we are making in the MARS facility will continue to position our Commonwealth as a leader in the growing aerospace industry, support critical life sciences research, and ensure that we remain a world-class center for space exploration and commerce for years to come.”
Launch pad modifications have made it possible to accommodate the loading of time-sensitive experiments into the Cygnus spacecraft as late as 24 hours before liftoff, eliminating the previous four-day pre-loading requirement. This is the first official mission to utilize the new late load capability, which has made the MARS facility eligible for missions that include life science investigations in the payload.
“The collaboration of Virginia Space, NASA Wallops, and Northrop Grumman to develop late load capability further advances the technology and capacity available at MARS to commercial and government customers,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “As we look to the future, collaboration will be key to unlocking the potential of this gateway to space, expanding the range of missions available to MARS, and bolstering the Commonwealth’s long-term economic competitiveness.”
This will be the first mission under Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract with NASA, for which the company will fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS through 2024. The Cygnus spacecraft will spend about two months attached to the space station. The spacecraft is scheduled to remain at the space station until January 13, 2020, when it will depart the station, deploy commercial customers’ CubeSats, and deorbit.
The Antares rocket will boost an unmanned Cygnus spacecraft carrying an 8,200-pound payload to the ISS that includes scientific investigations, supplies, and vehicle hardware for the orbital laboratory and its crew. Scientific investigations launching on Cygnus are part of commercial and academic payloads across a variety of disciplines, including:
- 3D-printed carbon fiber materials to be tested in the extreme environment of space, which could inform technology for medically implantable devices used on Earth for therapeutic drug delivery;
- a Zero-G Oven, designed to provide the psychological and physiological benefits of fresh-baked food for crew members on long-duration space missions;
- rodent research on microgravity as a disruptor of the 12-hour circadian clock, which will advance research into liver disease and could provide insights into genetic regulation and signaling pathways;
- the Made in Space Recycler to test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament in the microgravity environment of the ISS, which has implications for space conservation and deep space missions;
- the AstroRad Vest to protect astronauts from exposure to space radiation; and
- several items to support the crew of the ISS, including a replacement treadmill, waste management system hardware, an airlock hatch protection device, an oxygen tank, and cryochiller to support cold stowage capability.
“The Commonwealth’s support for aerospace is evident in the continued investment in infrastructure here at Wallops,” said Dale Nash, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. “Virginia Space is developing additional launch capabilities, and recently finished construction on a state-of-the-art dedicated Payload Processing Facility, to meet the diverse needs of a modern-day expanding Spaceport. These new assets continue to attract commercial and government partners, enabling NASA Wallops and the Spaceport to support the nation’s human space flight, scientific research, and national security missions with assured access to Space.”
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), the MARS Payload Processing Facility, and the MARS Unmanned Systems Test Range. Collocated on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the mission of Virginia Space and MARS is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space. Virginia continues to play a key role in national security and assured access to space, as one of only four states in the United States hosting a spaceport licensed by the FAA to launch spacecraft into orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. For more information, visit vaspace.org.
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Air, Land, Sea, and Space—Virginia’s Multimodal Transportation Network Helps Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Get the Job Done
Major construction milestone achieved with the successful transport and installation of the LC-2 launch mount platform