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Council Seeks to Get Word Out About Virginia's Role in Space
By: Sasha Congiu, LARRS intern

The Governor's Aerospace Advisory Council got a look at the future of space exploration Thursday, then spent time trying to find ways to get the word out about Virginia's role in it.

At a meeting in Dulles, Ray Crough, Orbital Science's deputy director, told the council, "You won't understand anything that we do here until you get out here and see it."

He then led the members on a tour of Orbital, which has one of two NASA contracts to provide a commercial vehicle to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).

The tour included a look at the company's Mission Operations Center, its Intelsat 18 communications satellite and the Taurus II rocket expected to power a transport vehicle to the ISS.

Governor's Aerospace Advisory Council meeting.
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Del. Joe May shows Lesa Roe, Langley's center director, and Mary Sandy, of Virginia Space Grant, some technology at May's firm, EIR, in Sterling. Credit: NASA/Donna Lawson

The Aerospace Advisory Council advises the governor on policy and funding priorities to promote the aerospace and space exploration industry in the Commonwealth.

Chaired by Del. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), other council members include Lesa Roe, NASA Langley's center director; and Bob Lindberg, president of the National Institute of Aerospace.

The group also heard from Nancy Verona of the state's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). Based in nearby Herndon, the non-profit center is chartered to foster technology-based companies. It's particularly attuned to technology transfer from the state's colleges and universities.

Like Virginia's role in space exploration, the council believes CIT is a well-kept secret beyond the Washington Beltway.

"CIT is a tremendous success story," Cosgrove said. "But it's not a success if it's not told."

The council has long supported Langley and been supported by the center.

"We look for where there are synergies on what's going on at NASA and what's happening in the commonwealth," Roe said. "We can win together."

Afterward, the council got another technology lesson from one its members, Del. Joe May (R-Loudon). His firm, EIT, is headquartered in Sterling. It has created technology as varied as the yellow first-down marker used in televised football games; and a device that measures sexually transmitted diseases, providing results to a doctor's office within 30 minutes.

"If you have the right sort of imagination, you can build a machine that can test about anything," May said.

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