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Rocket Lab Announces Activation Of First U.S. Launch Facility
December 31, 2020

Rocket Lab, the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider, has announced the activation of its first launch facility in the United States, located at Wallops Island.

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions that provide rapid, frequent, and reliable access to space. According to the announcement, it will launch low-weight, agile rockets into orbit starting next year.

The company began construction on the launch pad—known as Launch Complex-2 (LC-2)—in February, together with the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space). The pad is located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

LC-2 consists of a pad made from more than 1,400 cubic yards of concrete, a 66-ton launch platform, and a 44-foot, 7.6-ton “strongback,” which lifts the rocket into launch position. The site will be used to launch Rocket Lab’s 57-foot-tall Electron rocket capable of carrying up to 500 pounds of satellite payload to orbit. The Electron rocket allows Rocket Lab to offer customers both dedicated launch service as well as “rideshare” service—a commercially competitive arrangement that enables customers’ payloads to ride along as part of an existing mission.

Rocket Lab currently launches from its facility on the M?hia peninsula of New Zealand. LC-2 will expand the company’s access to both commercial and government customers who wish to launch from United States soil in order to meet the growing demand for more rapid and more frequent deployment of space-based assets. The dedicated launch site will be capable of supporting monthly orbital launches and will increase Rocket Lab’s capacity to as many as 130 missions per year across the two sites. Recognizing the need for responsive, reliable access to space, the Commonwealth invested $5 million from its Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund in the project.

“We’re thrilled to be delivering a new launch capability to the nation from Virginia,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Frequent and reliable access to orbit is the new normal for small satellites thanks to Electron, and now we’re proud to extend that capability to satellites launching from U.S. soil. The ongoing support of NASA, Virginia Space and the Commonwealth has been integral in building LC-2 so quickly, ensuring the site is ready for launches in early 2020.”

“This great collaboration between Rocket Lab, Virginia Space, and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility has resulted in the completion of a new launch site at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in record time,” said Governor Ralph S. Northam in response to the announcement. “Virginia is proud to be the home of Rocket Lab’s first facility in the United States—the advancements in aerospace happening right here in our Commonwealth will boost our economic competitiveness and ensure Virginia’s continued position as a leader in space flight.”

An Integration and Control Facility located within the Wallops Research Park is also under construction. The facility will be able to accommodate the simultaneous integration of multiple Electron launch vehicles, will contain an operations control center connected to LC-2, and will include office and conference room space for the Rocket Lab team. This new facility complements the LC-2 launch pad by creating dedicated vehicle processing capability and dedicated launch and mission center space for personnel who will support the Electron missions.

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