Rocket Lab Chooses Wallops Island For Rocket Manufacturing / Launch Facility; Potential For 250 Jobs


Rocket lab USA plans to build its first launch site at Wallops Island, Virginia, as well as extensive manufacturing and operations facilities for its eight-ton payload class reusable Neutron rocket. The project is expected to bring as many as 250 jobs to the Eastern Shore.

The facility would cover about a quarter-million square feet and would be built on a 28-acre site adjacent to the Wallops island Flight Facility. A launch control center is also planned.

“Virginia’s industrial and innovation ecosystem and skilled workforce make the Commonwealth an optimal location for industry leaders like Rocket Lab,” Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin said. “This important project reinforces the Eastern Shore’s legacy as an aerospace hub that offers the infrastructure for manufacturing and developing new technologies, and we look forward to a long partnership with Rocket Lab.”

Rocket Lab said it chose Wallops because of support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership working alongside Accomack County.

“Neutron is a new generation of rocket that will advance the way space is accessed, and Virginia makes perfect sense as Neutron’s home base,” Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck said. “Its position on the eastern seaboard is the ideal location to support both Neutron’s frequent launch cadence and the rocket’s return-to-Earth capability of landing back at its launch site after lift-off; and as one of only four states in the United States with an FAA spaceport license for missions to Earth orbit or on interplanetary trajectories, Virginia is home to an active and experienced aerospace workforce we can pull from to support Neutron’s development and launch. I’m thankful for the Commonwealth’s enthusiasm and backing of Neutron which, combined with the state’s rich heritage as an aerospace state, made it difficult to see anywhere else but Virginia as Neutron’s future home.”

“On behalf of Accomack County, I want to thank Rocket Lab for selecting the County as the location to manufacture and launch the Neutron Rocket,” Accomack Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Joe Tarr said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for all involved and a huge economic boost for Accomack County. We look forward to watching Electron and Neutron Rocket launches from Virginia Space’s MARS Facility on Wallops Island.”   

Youngkin’s office provided details on the state’s involvement:

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) Project Approval Commission to secure the project for the Commonwealth. Subject to approval by the General Assembly, the Commonwealth will support the project through a $30 million appropriation to Virginia Space for the infrastructure and operational systems. These improvements to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport will enhance the capabilities of the Spaceport to support existing programs and provide access for new customers like Rocket Lab. In addition, the MEI Project Approval Commission approved an investment of up to $15 million to support site improvements and construction of a building to be owned by Virginia Space and leased to Rocket Lab. Support for Rocket Lab’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System and other higher education partners, with funding support from the Governor’s administration and the Virginia General Assembly. Launched in 2019, the program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified, new, and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation. Rocket Lab is currently working with NASA to secure all necessary agreements and certifications for launches from Wallops Island. 

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