By Charlie Russell
Supervisor Ron Wolfe introduced Dave Pierce, who has been named the Acting Director of the Wallops Flight Facility at Wednesday’s Accomack County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Pierce told the board that the future of the facility is secure and the Goddard/Wallops Master Plan Update completed in August of 2018 validated Wallops as “critical to the Agency’s mission.”
The economic impact on lower Delmarva is estimated at $1.37 billion. The first of its kind study includes the entire Wallops complex which includes NASA, the U.S. Navy, NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Virginia Space including MARS, Northrop Grumman and Rocket Lab.
Pierce said that the Wallops Flight Facility is in the process of updating the WFF Strategic Plan. Among the goals are to attract world class projects, products and launch services; have a high performing Wallops Flight Facility team as a part of NASA and Goddard; to maintain a well-trained robust workforce; to maintain agile facilities, equipment and technology; and to continue effective internal and external relationships.
Pierce said that in 2019 NASA expects to launch 23 sounding rockets, 16 balloon flights, 2 ISS resupply missions plus other activities by Rocket Lab, a new customer at Wallops.
Thanking the county for support in the past, he said he was delighted to be here to continue the long partnership with the county. Pierce said the efforts of the citizens of the county during the government shutdown were much appreciated. He called it an outpouring of love from the county, the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce and even the chicken plants.
No stranger to the Eastern Shore, Pierce began his career at Wallops in 1986 and worked on the aircraft program until 1996. From 1998-2004 he served as a missions manager and from 2004-2011 served as head of the NASA Balloon Project. After he went to Greenbelt as Program Executive for Orbital Research in 2011, he maintained his home here in Accomack County.
Pierce said he hopes to increase internship opportunities at Wallops and continue to work to improve partnerships with schools and the Community College to insure a strong work force going forward and offer opportunities for local youth to be able to come home and have good jobs.