Private Company Wants Astronauts Launched from Wallops - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Private Company Wants Astronauts Launched from Wallops


WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - Exploring the final frontier from right here on Delmarva.  A private space company wants to send astronauts from space from Wallops Island.

The Las Vegas based company, Bigelow Aerospace, is the company that wants to bring the manned missions to Delmarva.

"We hope that we will be soon be making a proposal to NASA that will include launching people from the Eastern Shore.  If the agency has sufficient funding, we think they'll take it seriously and there is a good chance of proceeding," said Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace.

Bigelow Aerospace designs and builds what they call space habitats.  Two of their products have already been launched and a third will be sent to the International Space Station next year.  And the company has even bigger goals.

"We would actually ultimately like to go to the moon.  We think that is the next logical step for humanity's push into the stars.  But the first stop will be low Earth orbit where we will have an orbiting space station for commercial and governmental activities, research and development," said Gold.

Gold said the launch pad at Wallops would need some upgrades before any astronauts can launch.  And Bigelow officials said those upgrades would mean construction jobs for the local area.  If everything moves forward, the company sees Wallops as the perfect destination.  Far less activity that the Kennedy Space Center, and the infrastructure in place to make manned missions a reality.

Bigelow Aerospace has a time frame dependent on finding the right spacecraft to carry the astronauts to space and getting approval from NASA.  The company would like to have its first manned mission from Wallops in either 2017 or 2018.

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