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Rocket Lab Plans Rocket Launch Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia

Rocket Lab, a California-based company, has chosen Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia, just east of the Delmarva Peninsula, as the location for Launch Complex-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, 99 miles north of Virginia Beach.

“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 & 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.”

The Launch Vehicle Integration and Assembly Facility to be located in the Wallops Research Park 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. 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.

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.”

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Director Bill Wrobel said, “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.”

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