Dale K. Nash, CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, Announces His Retirement
~ “The future for Virginia Space and MARS is bright and expanding” ~
NORFOLK, VA – Dale K. Nash, the head of Virginia Space since August 2012, will be retiring from his post as chief executive officer and executive director effective as early as the fall of 2021.
“On behalf of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Board, I want to express our deep appreciation and gratitude for Dale’s outstanding service to Virginia Space as chief executive officer and executive director,” said Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Board Chairman Jeff Bingham. “Dale has overseen the effective operation and incredible expansion of our launch facilities and services during his tenure and leaves a tremendous legacy. His shoes will be very difficult to fill and we are grateful for his help with making the leadership transition of Virginia Space as seamless as possible in the months to come.”
“It has been my honor to lead Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport over the past eight years,” Nash said. “I am very proud of the spaceport infrastructure and talented workforce that we have developed to support our customers. I’m also very proud of the strong Public-Public-Private partnerships that we have developed with NASA and the private launch providers. The future for Virginia Space and MARS is bright and expanding!”
Under Nash’s leadership, Virginia has emerged as a leader in the aerospace industry, from classified national security missions to innovation in commercial space flight. Customer Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract for International Space Station (ISS) resupply missions, which they conduct via their Antares launch vehicle. To date, the company has conducted twelve successful Antares launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A to the ISS which, in November 2020, marked 20 years of humans continuously living off-planet. MARS Pad 0B hosted Department of Defense and National Reconnaissance Office missions on the Northrop Grumman Minotaur launch family of rockets and the LADEE Mission to the Moon on a Minotaur V, the first deep space mission to launch from NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
“Dale’s vision, strategic thinking, and exceptional experience have built Virginia Space into a leader in the aerospace industry,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “His efforts over the past eight years have positioned Virginia to be a world-class center for space exploration and research.”
During Nash’s tenure, he has overseen upgrades to and the expansion of MARS to enhance access to space for both commercial and governmental entities. Over the past eight years, Virginia Space’s major accomplishments include:
- Successful completion and rebuild of Pad-0A, the homeport of the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket;
- Significant upgrades to Pad-0B, which is currently launching the Northrop Grumman Minotaur family of rockets;
- Completion of a 3,000-foot-long Unmanned Aircraft Systems airfield and Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) pad;
- Construction and activation of the MARS Payload Processing Facility, a clean space for secure payload and rocket integration for classified and scientific missions;
- Launch pad modifications that make it possible to accommodate the loading of time-sensitive experiments into spacecraft as late as 24 hours before liftoff;
- Completion and activation of Launch Complex 2, the U.S.-based launch site for the Rocket Lab Electron rocket; and
- Construction of an Integration and Control Facility located in Wallops Research Park for Rocket Lab.
In 2018, Virginia Space secured a new customer, Rocket Lab, a global leader in small satellite launches. Low-cost rockets enable the aerospace company to launch into space more rapidly and more frequently than traditional rockets allow. Through strong collaboration among Rocket Lab, Virginia Space, and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the company’s first launch pad on U.S. soil was completed in record time.
2020 marked 25 years since the Virginia General Assembly established Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, and the 75th anniversary of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Wallops Flight Facility. Nineteen successful missions have launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The Wallops Island Aerospace Cluster, which includes Virginia Space, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Northrop Grumman, and Rocket Lab, USA, generates a total economic impact of $1.37 billion for the region.