Earlier this year, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility reaffirmed a 25-year relationship with the Virginia Space Flight Academy (VASFA) through the signing of a new Space Act Agreement. This formal partnership provides outreach opportunities for youth, including a residential space adventure camp each summer.
“Wallops is proud to continue our 25-year partnership with VASFA,” said Wallops Director David Pierce. “The camp programs bring local and regional youth to the facility and our subject matter experts look forward to providing behind-the-scenes tours to support the development of the next generation of aerospace professionals.”
VASFA was launched in 1998 as one of six projects initiated by the Eastern Shore Regional Partnership. The goal was to offer quality summer camp experiences for local youth by leveraging the high-tech activities being conducted at Wallops, the Virginia Spaceport Authority (then known as the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the United States Navy. Based on the success of the pilot camps, the nonprofit organization was officially established in 2000 and has continued to lead the program.
Since then, over 6,000 youth have attended summer camp, with many campers returning to camp as staff. Camp staff members have had the opportunity to leverage their camp experiences to secure internships and employment with NASA and other aerospace partners. An additional 1,000 students have been served by a new series of year-round STEM Academy programming that was launched in 2021.
During the 2023 summer camp season, campers had the opportunity to participate in a few unique experiences. At the July 28 Advanced Aerospace Camp graduation ceremony, the campers and their families were joined by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin as they presented VASFA with the Spirit of Virginia award. This award recognizes unique qualities and standout achievements across the Commonwealth and salutes Virginians for their uncommon contributions in private industries, education, culture, the arts, and philanthropy. The following week, Advanced Coding and Robotics campers were treated to a rocket launch viewing event during the Northrop Grumman’s 19th cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station aboard the Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia.