Rocket Lab USA, Inc. has selected Wallops Island, VA as the location for its Neutron rocket launch site and manufacturing and operations facilities. The California-based launch services and space systems provider is expected to create up to 250 new jobs in Accomack County.
Rocket Lab will launch the Neutron from a new Virginia Space-owned launch pad that will be located within the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The 250,000-square-foot state-of-the-art complex will be constructed 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 stationed at the complex.
“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,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “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.”
This new manufacturing complex for the Neutron will be located within proximity of Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2, the company’s first U.S. launch site. It was built specifically for the Electron rocket, the second-most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019.
“Virginia’s industrial and innovation ecosystem and skilled workforce make the Commonwealth an optimal location for industry leaders like Rocket Lab,” said Governor Glenn 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.”
“Wallops Island is a prime site for aerospace and aviation operations, and it is an honor to officially welcome Rocket Lab to the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The Commonwealth has a strong aerospace and unmanned systems industry workforce, which is forecast to grow 8.5% over the next decade, and is well-positioned to provide the skilled talent that Rocket Lab will require for its Neutron launch site, manufacturing, and operations.”
“Virginia Space will continue our already outstanding relationship with a premiere company like Rocket Lab,” said Major General Ted Mercer, USAF (ret), 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 has made at MARS to enhance our capability, which was instrumental in convincing Rocket Lab to expand their operations and bring a new mission to Virginia. This is a win-win for Rocket Lab, the Commonwealth, and our nation!”
“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 Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller. “We are excited 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 Eastern Shore.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) 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.
Subject to approval by the General Assembly, 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. Support for Rocket Lab’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by the VEDP 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.
Rocket Lab is currently working with NASA to secure all necessary agreements and certifications for launches from Wallops Island.