RICHMOND, VA – On February 28, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB), a global leader in launch services and space systems, has chosen Wallops Island, Va., in Accomack County, as the location for its launch site and extensive manufacturing and operations facilities for its Neutron rocket, which is expected to create up to 250 new jobs.
Rocket Lab will launch the Neutron from a new Virginia Space-owned launch pad that will be located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the east coast of Virginia. . The state-of-the-art, 250,000-square-foot complex will be built on a 28-acre site adjacent to the Wallops Island Flight Facility, which was purchased by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority in 2021. Up to 250 engineers, technicians, and support staff may be assigned to the complex.
This new Neutron manufacturing complex will be located near Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2, the company’s first launch site in the United States. It was built specifically for the Electron rocket, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket each year since 2019.
“Virginia’s industrial and innovation ecosystem and skilled workforce make the Commonwealth an optimal location for industry leaders like Rocket Lab,” Governor Youngkin said. “This important project reinforces the East Coast’s heritage as an aerospace hub that provides the infrastructure needed to manufacture and develop new technologies, and we look forward to a long partnership. with Rocket Lab.”
“Wallops Island is a prime site for aerospace and aviation operations, and it’s an honor to officially welcome Rocket Lab to the east coast of Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Commerce Caren Merrick. “The Commonwealth has a strong workforce in the aerospace and unmanned systems industry, which is expected to grow by 8.5% over the next decade, and is well positioned to provide the skilled talent including Rocket Lab will need for its Neutron launch site, manufacturing and operations. .”
“Neutron is a new generation of rocket that will advance access to space, and Virginia makes perfect sense as Neutron’s home base,” said Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Its position on the east coast is the perfect place to support both Neutron’s frequent launch cadence and the rocket’s return-to-Earth capability of landing at its launch site after liftoff; and as one of only four states in the United States with an FAA spaceport license for missions in Earth orbit or on interplanetary trajectories, Virginia is home to an active aerospace workforce and experience that we can leverage to support the development and launch of Neutron. I am grateful for the Commonwealth’s enthusiasm and Neutron’s support which, combined with the state’s rich heritage as an aerospace state, has made it difficult to see anywhere but Virginia as Neutron’s future home.
“General Ted Mercer and his team at Virginia Space are the best in the business. This commitment from Rocket Lab is further testament to the quality of personnel and facilities the Commonwealth has developed at Wallops Island,” said Transport Secretary Shep Miller. “We are thrilled to welcome Rocket Lab to Virginia and look forward to future developments in the aerospace industry that will bring engineers, technicians and families to the East Coast.”
“Rocket Lab’s new manufacturing and launch facility in Accomack County is a tremendous win for the region and the Commonwealth, building on the East Coast’s rich history in aerospace,” said the senator. Janet Howell, Chair of the Major Employment and Investment Approval Commission. “We are pleased that the company has recognized Virginia as the optimal location for this important project, and are proud that the MEI Commission can play a role.
“Rocket Lab is an important addition to Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace sector, and I am pleased that the MEI Commission can work with our state, regional and local partners on this important project to bring it across the finish line,” said said Delegate Barry Knight, President. of the House Appropriations Committee. “The addition of 250 new jobs is transformational for Virginia’s east coast, which has become a hub for aerospace and aviation operations.”
“Virginia Space will continue our already outstanding relationship with a leading company like Rocket Lab,” said Major General Ted Mercer, USAF (Retired), CEO and Executive Director, Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. “We were able to leverage our existing world-class assets and the significant investment the Commonwealth made in MARS to enhance our capability, which helped convince Rocket Lab to expand operations and bring new assignment in Virginia. It’s a win-win for Rocket Lab, the Commonwealth, and our nation!
“On behalf of Accomack County, I would like to thank Rocket Lab for choosing the county as the location for the manufacture and launch of the Neutron rocket,” said Accomack Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Joe Tarr. “This is a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved and a huge economic boost for Accomack County. We can’t wait to watch the Electron and Neutron rocket launches from Virginia Space’s MARS facility on Wallops Island.
“Rocket Lab’s launch and major manufacturing complex in Accomack County is an exciting opportunity that will bring 250 high-paying jobs to the East Coast and advance Coastal Virginia’s position as a national leader in the space industry. “said Rep. Elaine G. Luria. “I am proud to support initiatives that create economic opportunity and expand the Commonwealth’s role in the space industry.”
“Rocket Lab’s official decision to locate its Neutron Production and Launch Complex in Accomack County is a game-changer for the East Coast and the Commonwealth,” said Senator Lynwood Lewis. “We are delighted that Virginia has been selected for this expansion, which will further stimulate economic activity, and we look forward to building a lasting partnership with this industry-leading company.”
“Rocket Lab’s selection of Virginia for this major project is a huge win, and I appreciate the hard work of all parties,” said delegate Robert Bloxom. “Rocket Lab is a welcome addition to Virginia Space and Accomack County, and I am confident that the excellent workforce and infrastructure provided by NASA Wallops Flight Facility helped the company make its decision. to expand on the east coast of Virginia.”
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. The company provides reliable launch services, spacecraft components, satellites, other spacecraft, and in-orbit management solutions that make getting to space faster, easier, and more affordable. Based in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the small Electron orbital launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform and develops the 8-ton Neutron payload-class launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket each year and has delivered 109 satellites into orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling national security, scientific research and space debris mitigation. , Earth observation, climate monitoring and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Accomack County, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Approval Committee to secure the project for the Commonwealth.
Subject to General Assembly approval, the Commonwealth will support the project through a $30 million credit to Virginia Space for infrastructure and operational systems. These enhancements to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport will enhance the spaceport’s capabilities to support existing programs and provide access to new customers like Rocket Lab. Additionally, MEI’s Project Approvals Board has approved an investment of up to $15 million to support site improvements and the construction of a building that will be owned by Virginia Space and leased to Rocket Lab.
Rocket Lab’s job creation support will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in conjunction with the Virginia Community College System and other partners. of higher education, with financial support from the Governor’s Administration and Virginia. General Assembly. Launched in 2019, the program accelerates the start-up of new facilities through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services fully tailored to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards and culture. All program services are provided free of charge to qualified new and expanding businesses as an incentive for job creation.
Rocket Lab is currently working with NASA to obtain all necessary agreements and certifications for launches from Wallops Island.
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, the MARS Payload Processing Facility, and the Integration and Control Facility at Wallops Research Park. Co-located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the east coast of Virginia, Virginia Space and MARS’ mission is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “on-schedule” access to space and secure facilities for testing unmanned vehicles for integration. in national airspace. Virginia continues to play a key role in national security and ensuring access to space, as one of only four states in the United States to host an FAA-authorized spaceport to launch spacecraft. in orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. For more information, visit www.vaspace.org.