New rocket launch site to be built on Wallops Island bringing 250 jobs to Accomack County

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 18:33:40-05

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has been selected as the new home for Rocket Lab's Neutron rocket.

Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that Rocket Lab USA, Inc., has selected Wallops Island as the location for its launch site and extensive manufacturing and operations facilities for its Neutron rocket. The new rocket factory is expected to create up to 250 new jobs.

The Neutron Production Complex will include a rocket production, assembly, and integration facility just outside the NASA gate to Wallops Island. The dedicated launch pad will be located on the south end of Wallops Island.

This new factory 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 annually since 2019.

“NASA’s only owned and operated launch range at Wallops Flight Facility supports small- and medium-class orbital rocket launches, which are key contributors to a growing space economy,” said Wallops Director David Pierce. “The high-tech jobs created by this move are vital for the Wallops region, and I’m excited we’re bringing more of the agency’s expertise to Rocket Lab, Virginia Space, and all our partners on the Eastern Shore.”

Rocket Lab has targeted the first Neutron medium-class orbital rocket launch no earlier than 2024.

“Virginia’s industrial and innovation ecosystem and skilled workforce make the Commonwealth an optimal location for industry leaders like Rocket Lab,” said Governor Youngkin. “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’s launch and major manufacturing complex in Accomack County is an exciting opportunity that will bring 250 good-paying jobs to the Eastern Shore and advance Coastal Virginia’s position as a national leader in the space industry,” said Representative Elaine G. Luria. “I am proud to support initiatives that create economic opportunities and expand the Commonwealth’s role in the space industry.”

Virginia 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.

Rocket Lab is currently working with NASA to secure all necessary agreements and certifications for launches.

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