Virginia Governor Northam Announces Proposal for Rocket Lab USA to Expand U.S. Manufacturing and Launch Operations in Accomack County

Neutron booster (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Aerospace leader expected to make significant investment for construction of new Production, Assembly, Integration and Test facility, prepare for launch of new Neutron rocket

RICHMOND, Va. (Gov. Northam PR) — Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Accomack County is a finalist for a proposed expansion by Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a global leader in launch services and space systems, which expects to make a significant investment to expand its U.S. manufacturing and launch operations. If selected, the proposal would see Rocket Lab develop a new facility to support part production, assembly, integration and test operations to support the launch of its new Neutron rocket from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Announced by Rocket Lab in March 2021, the Neutron rocket is expected to be operational in late 2024 and is designed to deliver a 17,600 pound payload to low Earth orbit, and may ultimately support human spaceflight. 

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Retired Major General Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer, Jr. Named CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority

Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer

RICHMOND (Gov. Ralph Northam PR) —Governor Ralph Northam today announced the selection of Major General Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer, Jr., United States Air Force (Retired) as the new Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space). General Mercer was appointed by the Virginia Space Board of Directors this morning and will assume the role on August 1, 2021 upon the retirement of Dale Nash, who has led Virginia Space since 2012.

“Major General Mercer has extensive experience in space with the United States Air Force and in industry, and his proven ability to bring partners to the table to work toward a shared goal will greatly benefit both Virginia Space and the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Under his leadership, Virginia is poised to maximize the investments we have made in our world-class spaceport and launch into the future as a leader in space exploration, research, and commerce.”

General Mercer brings decades of experience in the aerospace field and executive leadership in both the military and private sectors. In 2016, Mercer was named Director of the Interagency Planning Office for the “NextGen” program at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He later served as Director of the NextGen Collaboration and Messaging Office, where he ensured collaboration and coordination with partner agencies and other countries. Previously, he served 32 years with the United States Air Force, where his duties ranged from commanding the 30th Space Wing to commanding a space lift logistics group, developing national security policy, and serving as Deputy Director of Operations for the Air Force Space Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

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