In July, New Zealand space startup Rocket Labs announced it was looking for a U.S. location for its new launch site. (You gotta keep Blue Origin and SpaceX on their toes, after all.) The company has now made its selection—Virginia, home of Smithfield Ham.
Specifically, Rocket Labs will let its Electron rockets fly from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. The site will serve as Rocket Lab’s second dedicated launch complex. By design, Launch Complex 2 is well-located to serve U.S. government and commercial missions. As soon as the second site is up and running, Rocket Lab’s expects to be able to run more than 130 missions per year. They will have to share the space, though, which will be a change from their current digs in New Zealand, where they own the world’s only private launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, where they successfully launched a flying disco ball into space earlier this year.
“Having proven the Electron vehicle with a successful orbital launch this year, we’re thrilled to expand on our ability to provide rapid, reliable, and affordable access to orbit for small satellites,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck in a statement.
For the new space, Rocket Labs will work with Virginia Space, the state’s very own space agency, to construct dedicated pad infrastructure at the site, designed to fit its Electron launch vehicle. It will also develop a Launch Vehicle Integration and Assembly Facility in the Wallops Research Park in the hopes of having four Electron vehicles available.