Virginia opens unmanned aircraft runway on Wallops Island
19 May, 2017, 22:43
The Daily Press reports that NASA Wallops Flight Facility says the governor wouldn't use the new runway, but on one of NASA's larger airstrips on its main base a few miles away. It's officially known as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MARS UAS) Airfield.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Governor McAuliffe boarded an Aurora Centaur, an optionally piloted aircraft that can be operated remotely from a ground control station, and flew in the plane over Wallops Island.
McAuliffe joined Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and other local leaders in unveiling the airstrip that's 3,000 feet long and 75 feet wide, said Paula Miller of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Virginia Space aims for the new airfield to be used by academic, government and commercial systems that want to test and research their technologies, Lochrie said.
Attending a ribbon cutting ceremony at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the governor's visit was meant to recognize the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MARS UAS) Airfield. A hangar is being built this summer and will include a rollup door, lab space and communications and broadband connectivity. "VDOT managed the entire construction of runway from the initial turnover of engineering drawings and permits to the last foot of paving".
"It is Virginia's latest commitment to be the home of everything autonomous", said Dale Nash, Virginia Space executive director.
Donning a flight suit and helmet, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe christened the state's first unmanned aircraft runway with a flight over the airfield in a autonomous airplane. The state cited estimations from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), that predicts that the drone industry will generate about $270 million annually in Virginia by the year 2020.
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