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Congressman Beyer: NASA should be able to lease out some of its facilities

NASA Wallops Twitter Page (@NASA_Wallops)
A sounding rocket launches from NASA's Wallops Island facility

A Virginia congressman is hoping that NASA might be able to raise some extra money to help fund infrastructure on Wallops Island.

This week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to take up a bill introduced by Congressman Don Beyer of Alexandria that would allow NASA to lease some of its properties to make a little extra spending money. But he says don't expect to stay at a space shuttle Airbnb or rent a moon bounce on the moon.

"But there are a number of terrific NASA excess facilities, buildings mostly on existing NASA bases that subcontractors can lease out," says Beyer.

Federal Highway Administration
The Wallops Island Causeway Bridge was constructed in 1959.

Until New Year's Day. That's when the current law allowing for 65 leased properties expires, and almost $11 million a year is at stake. Beyer says he hopes that money can go to replace the Wallops Island Causeway Bridge, a narrow rickety bridge over Cat Creek in Accomack County that was constructed back in 1959. During a recent congressional hearing about infrastructure spending priorities, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said this, "Your bridge is number one on the list."

Beyer is hoping the money from the bill would be a bridge to the future for NASA’s launch facility on the Eastern Shore.

"It could actually be the bridge to the moon, to Mars and deeper into space," explains Beyer.

If the bill gets out of the House with minimum opposition, it'll be on the fast track in the Senate, which will need to take action before the end of this month.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: December 8, 2021 at 11:13 AM EST
The legislation passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote late Wednesday morning.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.