RICHMOND, Va. (Virginia Governor’s Office PR)—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Rocket Lab, a California-based company, has chosen Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as the location for Launch Complex-2 (LC-2), Rocket Lab’s first launch facility located in the United States.
Already launching from their own facility on the Mahia peninsula of New Zealand, LC-2 helps Rocket Lab meet its rapidly growing launch manifest demand from both commercial and government customers. Construction will begin immediately for Launch Complex-2 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and a Launch Vehicle Integration and Assembly Facility, which will be located nearby in Wallops Research Park.
“I am proud to welcome Rocket Lab as the newest launch provider at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility,” said Governor Northam. “Rocket Lab’s selection of our Commonwealth for its first launch site and integration facility in the United States is a great win for our growing aerospace industry, and an investment that will generate jobs and increase Virginia’s overall economic competitiveness.”
“The development of Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex-2 strengthens our existing position as the industry leader providing frequent and tailored access to orbit for small satellites,” said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck. “Launching from U.S. soil adds an extra layer of flexibility for our government and commercial customers, offering an unmatched ability to rapidly deploy space-based assets with confidence and precision.”
Rocket Lab will launch its 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron rocket from LC-2, the dedicated launch site to be constructed at MARS. The Electron rocket can launch approximately 500 pounds (225 kilograms) of payload to orbit. The rocket launch industry has shifted recently as commercial spaceflight has matured and satellites have gotten smaller and less expensive to manufacture. With the capabilities provided by the Electron, Rocket Lab is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the emerging market for smaller rockets that can launch rapidly and more frequently.
“Rocket Lab’s decision to locate this launch site and integration facility at Wallops Island reflects the Commonwealth’s strategic transportation planning efforts to create a world class, customer-oriented gateway to space,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The MARS facility is an important part of our multimodal transportation system that serves as the platform to drive Virginia’s economy forward.”
Rocket Lab, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, and Virginia Space are looking to launch the first Electron from LC-2 at MARS as early as Summer 2019.
“We are pleased with Rocket Lab’s decision to launch its Electron rocket from Wallops,” said NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Director Bill Wrobel. “Wallops, as a multi-tenant, multi-user facility, has been supporting the commercial launch industry for more than 30 years and, partnering with Virginia Space and its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, we look forward to continue this effort with Rocket Lab.”
The Launch Vehicle Integration and Assembly Facility to be located in the Wallops Research Park (WRP) will be designed and built to accommodate the simultaneous integration of three to four Electron vehicles, will contain a control room with connectivity to LC-2, and will include customer office and conference room space. This new facility, in tandem with the purpose-built gantry located at LC-2, will provide significant and dedicated vehicle processing capability and flexibility to meet Rocket Lab’s launch cadence.
“From the very beginning of discussions, it was clear that Rocket Lab was an extremely good fit with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport,” stated Virginia Space CEO and Executive Director Dale Nash. “Their nimble and responsive approach to business mirrors our own. Both companies are staffed by committed and dedicated employees that solve challenges simply, successfully and in a cost-effective manner. Rocket Lab’s frequency of flights approach to satellite launch dovetails perfectly with the capabilities and facilities available at the Spaceport.”
“Wallops Research Park was created to provide an attractive environment for science, technology and educational enterprises,” said Chairman of the Accomack County Board of Supervisors Robert Crockett. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Accomack County and the intelligence and strong work ethic of the best and brightest of our residents will serve Rocket Lab well in their endeavors.”
“The level of cooperation and partnership between Virginia Space, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and their respective customers is uncommon. Combining the attributes of a federal entity with the flexibility associated with an Authority of Virginia allows for a unique partnering that provides complementary versus duplicative efforts,” noted MARS Director Sean Mulligan. “Virginia Space and the Wallops Flight Facility team work seamlessly to provide outstanding service, safety and responsiveness. This collaboration provides an outstanding program experience, enabling customers like Rocket Lab to focus on their mission and meet accelerated schedules at a reasonable cost.”
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. Rocket Lab develops and launches advanced rocket technology to provide rapid and repeatable access to orbit for small satellites. Rocket Lab is driven to broaden the horizons of what’s already possible in space and is inspired by the possibilities not yet imagined. Rocket Lab is a private company, with major investors including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Promus Ventures, Lockheed Martin and K1W1. For more information, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
About Virginia Space
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), the MARS Unmanned Systems Test Range and is constructing the MARS Payload Processing Facility (PPF). Collocated on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia, the mission of Virginia Space and MARS is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space. Virginia continues to play a key role in national security and assured access to space, as one of only four states in the United States hosting a spaceport licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch spacecraft into orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. For more information, visit www.vaspace.org.