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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Virginia Spaceport Chief to Retire

The man leading Virginia's charge into space is eyeing retirement, a management change that comes as the state prepares to invest millions of dollars to create the nation's premiere spaceport.

Billie M. Reed has overseen nearly all aspects of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport since Virginia lawmakers decided to build the facility 17 years ago. Last month, he notified the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority board of directors that he plans to step down as its executive director.

A former Navy officer and current assistant professor of engineering management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Reed has not submitted a resignation letter. Nevertheless, the board formed a committee to search for his replacement.

From the authority's inception in 1995, Reed has navigated through a maze of local, state and federal politics, as well as private industry, to make Virginia a player in the commercial space industry.

His first coup was in 1997 when he inked a partnership with NASA to lease land at Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore. The same year he helped secure a Federal Aviation Administration license to launch rockets from the site as well as tax-friendly legislation to attract aerospace companies.

The efforts paid off in 2008, when Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corp. picked Virginia instead of Florida to stage its $1.9 billion NASA contract to launch rockets that will resupply the International Space Station.

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