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Rocket Lab WFF

Mar 11, 2022

Ground Segment

RocketLab at NASA's WFF (Wallops Flight Facility)


February 28, 2022: NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia was selected by Rocket Lab as the home for its new Neutron rocket's first launch pad and production facility, further supporting the growth of commercial space capabilities in Virginia. 1) 2)

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.

Figure 1: This graphic shows Rocket Lab's Neutron Production Complex and the Neutron rocket (image credit: Rocket Lab)
Figure 1: This graphic shows Rocket Lab's Neutron Production Complex and the Neutron rocket (image credit: Rocket Lab)

"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 for no earlier than 2024.

"We congratulate the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Space and Accomack County working with Rocket Lab to bring this next chapter of commercial space operations to Wallops," said Pierce. "We welcome Rocket Lab's expansion on the Shore and look forward to working with them in bringing this new launch capability to reality."

Wallops is a multi-user/multi-tenant facility in a geographic location ideal for supporting satellite tracking and commanding, military operations and training, scientific investigations, technology development and testing, as well as commercial aerospace. The facility's diverse mission sets and on-site partners, including the U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Coast Guard, and Virginia Space's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, are a model for leveraging and optimizing multi-organizational capabilities and support services.

A robust and competitive low-Earth orbit economy is vital to continued progress in space. The United States is committed to encouraging and facilitating the growth of the U.S. commercial space sector that supports America's needs, is globally competitive, and advances U.S. leadership in the next generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship. NASA has developed a long-term vision to achieve this goal where, one day, NASA will become one of many customers in low-Earth orbit. This plan builds on, uses the capabilities of, and applies the lessons learned from decades of work and experience with commercial companies.



Development Status

Neutron rocket of Rocket Lab: Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a leading launch and space systems company, today revealed new details about the next generation Neutron launch vehicle in a virtual event streamed via Rocket Lab's YouTube channel. 3)

Figure 2: Meet Neutron. Building on Rocket Lab's proven experience developing the Electron launch vehicle, the advanced 8-ton payload class Neutron launch vehicle is designed to transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight (video credit: Rocket Lab)

Building on Rocket Lab's proven experience developing the Electron launch vehicle, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019, the advanced 8-ton payload class Neutron launch vehicle is designed to transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight. During today's live streamed Neutron update, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck revealed new details about Neutron's unique design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture for the first time.

"Neutron is not a conventional rocket. It's a new breed of launch vehicle with reliability, reusability and cost reduction is hard baked into the advanced design from day one. Neutron incorporates the best innovations of the past and marries them with cutting edge technology and materials to deliver a rocket for the future," said Mr. Beck. "More than 80% of the satellites to be launched in the next decade are expected to be constellations, which have unique deployment needs that Neutron is the first vehicle to address specifically. Like we did with Electron, rather than starting with a traditional rocket design, we focused on our customers' needs and worked back from there. The result is a rocket that is right-sized for market demand and can launch fast, frequently and affordably."

The World's First Carbon Composite Medium-Class Launch Vehicle

Neutron will be the world's first carbon composite large launch vehicle. Rocket Lab pioneered the use of carbon composite for orbital rockets with the Electron rocket, which has been delivering frequent and reliable access to space for government and commercial small satellites since 2018. Neutron's structure will be comprised of a new, specially formulated carbon composite material that is lightweight, strong and can withstand the immense heat and forces of launch and re-entry again and again to enable frequent re-flight of the first stage. To enable rapid manufacturability, Neutron's carbon composite structure will be made using an automated fiber placement system which can build meters of carbon rocket shell in minutes.

A Unique Structure to Simplify Launch and Landing

Reusability is key to enabling frequent and affordable launch, so the ability to launch, land and lift-off again has been built into every aspect of Neutron's design from day one. It starts with Neutron's unique shape, a tapered rocket with a wide base to provide a robust, stable base for landing, eliminating the need for complex mechanisms and landing legs. This balanced structure also removes the need for bulky launch site infrastructure, including strongbacks and launch towers. Neutron will instead stand securely on its own legs for lift-off. After reaching space and deploying Neutron's second stage, the first stage will return to Earth for a propulsive landing at the launch site, eliminating the high costs associated with ocean-based landing platforms and operations.

Rocket Engine Built for Reliability and Reuse

Neutron will be powered by an entirely new rocket engine, Archimedes. Designed and manufactured in-house by Rocket Lab, Archimedes is a reusable liquid oxygen / methane gas generator cycle engine capable of 1 meganewton (106 N) thrust and 320 seconds of Isp (Specific Impulse). Seven Archimedes engines will propel Neutron's first stage, with a single vacuum optimized Archimedes engine on the second stage. Neutron's lightweight carbon composite structure means Archimedes does not need the immense performance and complexity typically associated with larger rockets and their propulsion systems. By developing a simple engine with modest performance requirements, the timeline for development and testing can be drastically accelerated.

Say Goodbye to Throwing Away Fairings

What makes Neutron's design especially unique is the captive ‘Hungry Hippo' fairing design. This innovative design will see the fairing form part of the first stage structure and remain fixed to the stage. Rather than separating from the stage and falling away to the ocean like traditional fairings, Neutron's Hungry Hippo fairing jaws will open wide to release the second stage and payload, before closing again ready to return to Earth with the first stage. What lands back on the launch pad is a compete first stage with fairings attached, ready for a new second stage to be integrated and launched. This advanced design can speed up launch frequency, eliminates the high cost, low reliability method of capturing fairings at sea, and enables the second stage to be lightweight and nimble.

A High-Performance Upper Stage

Thanks to Neutron's ‘Hungry Hippo' fairing design, the entire second stage will be completely enveloped within the Neutron's first stage structure and fairing during launch. Thanks to this, Neutron's second stage is designed to be the lightest in history to enable high performance for complex satellite deployments. Typically, a second stage forms part of the launch vehicle's exterior structure and needs to provide strength to the vehicle from lift-off, exposing it to the harsh environments of the lower atmosphere during launch. By being housed inside the first stage and ‘Hungry Hippo' fairing, the requirement for the second stage to withstand the launch environment is eliminated and the second stage can be made significantly lighter enabling higher performance in space. Designed as an expendable upper stage for now, Neutron's second stage is a six-meter-long carbon composite structure with a single vacuum optimized Archimedes engine.

Rocket Lab is currently working through a competitive process to select launch site, rocket production facility and Archimedes engine test facility on the U.S. East Coast. Rocket Lab expects to create around 250 new jobs to support the Neutron program with many roles open for application now.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements, including without limitation expectations regarding the development, capability and technical design of the Neutron rocket architecture and related components, are based on Rocket Lab's current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond Rocket Lab's control), or other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including risks related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, including risks related to government restrictions and lock-downs in New Zealand and other countries in which we operate that could delay or suspend our operations; delays and disruptions in expansion efforts; our dependence on a limited number of customers; the harsh and unpredictable environment of space in which our products operate which could adversely affect our launch vehicle and spacecraft; increased congestion from the proliferation of low Earth orbit constellations which could materially increase the risk of potential collision with space debris or another spacecraft and limit or impair our launch flexibility and/or access to our own orbital slots; increased competition in our industry due in part to rapid technological development and decreasing costs; technological change in our industry which we may not be able to keep up with or which may render our services uncompetitive; average selling price trends; failure of our launch vehicles, satellites and components to operate as intended either due to our error in design, in production or through no fault of our own; launch schedule disruptions; supply chain disruptions, product delays or failures; design and engineering flaws; launch failures; natural disasters and epidemics or pandemics; changes in governmental regulations including with respect to trade and export restrictions, or in the status of our regulatory approvals or applications; or other events that force us to cancel or reschedule launches, including customer contractual rescheduling and termination rights; risks that acquisitions may not be completed on the anticipated timeframe or at all or do not achieve the anticipated benefits and results; and the other risks detailed from time to time in Rocket Lab's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading "Risk Factors" and elsewhere (including that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may also exacerbate the risks discussed therein). There can be no assurance that the future developments affecting Rocket Lab will be those that we have anticipated. Except as required by law, Rocket Lab is not undertaking any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

• December 2, 2021: Rocket Lab has provided a significant update in the progress of their Neutron rocket, a vehicle aimed primarily at the small-scale interplanetary and low Earth orbit mega-constellation markets at first. 4)

- Among the major updates announced by Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck were a complete switch of propellants, a firm Return To Launch Site landing plan with the elimination of down-range ocean landings, reveal of the building materials, and introduction of the new 1 Meganewton Archimedes engine.

- Neutron was revealed earlier this year on March 1 as a 40 m tall medium-lift launcher with a 4.5 m diameter payload fairing and a payload capacity to a 400 km low Earth orbit of 8,000 kg. In addition, the rocket would be capable of delivering roughly 2,000 kg to lunar orbit and 1,500 kg to Venus or Mars.

- At the time, Neutron was slated to launch on its first mission in 2024 with initial missions planned from Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.

- After boosting the vehicle toward orbit, Neutron's first stage was designed to land on floating platforms downrange from the launch site in the ocean for recovery and reuse. Landing tests were planned to occur during operational flights so that the rocket would be available to customers during the period in which Rocket Lab worked out the landing and recovery process.

• March 1, 2021: Rocket Lab, a developer of launch vehicles and smallsats, will merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to support development of larger launch vehicle, part of the latest wave of deals to take space companies public. 5) 6)

- Rocket Lab announced March 1 that it will merge with Vector Acquisition Corporation, a SPAC established last year by venture capital fund Vector Capital. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, with Rocket Lab then traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol RKLB.

- The merger will provide Rocket Lab with up to $320 million from Vector Acquisition's account. In addition, a concurrent private investment in public equity (PIPE) round, led by Vector Capital, BlackRock and Neuberger Berman, will provide $470 million. The merger will value Rocket Lab at $4.1 billion.

Figure 3: Rocket Lab said the funding it will get from its merger with the SPAC Vector Acquisition Corp. will support development of a new medium-class launch vehicle, Neutron (image credit: Rocket Lab)
Figure 3: Rocket Lab said the funding it will get from its merger with the SPAC Vector Acquisition Corp. will support development of a new medium-class launch vehicle, Neutron (image credit: Rocket Lab)

- "This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab's ability to unlock the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our ambition to create a new multi-billion-dollar business vertical in space applications," said Peter Beck, chief executive and founder of Rocket Lab, in a statement announcing the merger.

- "Rocket Lab is a once-in-a-generation company that is democratizing access to space through its constant innovation, leading technology and proven execution," Alex Slusky, chief executive of Vector, said in the statement. Slusky will join the board of Rocket Lab once the merger closes. "Rocket Lab is ideally positioned to continue to capture market share in the rapidly expanding space launch, systems and applications markets."

- Rocket Lab is best known for its Electron small launch vehicle, which has launched 18 times since 2017. The company is also working on a smallsat bus called Photon designed to be launched with Electron. It launched the first Photon satellite last August and will launch the second on the next Electron launch in mid-March.

- Rocket Lab had raised $288 million in several funding rounds, most recently $140 million in a Series E round in November 2018 that valued the company at more than $1 billion. Beck described that round as "a big keg of dry powder" to allow it to weather disruptions such as the pandemic, as well as support new initiatives like its Photon satellite bus and an ongoing effort to reuse the Electron's first stage.

- The funding from the SPAC merger will enable another new initiative. Rocket Lab said it is working on a medium-class launch vehicle called Neutron, capable of placing up to 8,000 kg into low Earth orbit, more than 20 times the capacity of Electron. The company disclosed few technical details about Neutron, but said that it intends to make the first stage reusable through propulsive landing on an ocean platform, similar to SpaceX's recovery of Falcon 9 first stages.

- The new vehicle is intended to support the growing interest in satellite megaconstellations. "Neutron's eight-ton lift capacity will make it ideally sized to deploy satellites in batches to specific orbital planes, creating a more targeted and streamlined approach to building out megaconstellations," Beck said in the statement.

- Rocket Lab had previously resisted building a larger vehicle. "There's no market for it," Beck said during a side session of the Smallsat Conference in August 2020. "If you build a larger rocket, you relegate yourself to being purely rideshare, and rideshare is really well-served."

- "We're not going to move the needle for anybody" with a larger rocket offering rideshare services, he continued. "Where we can move the needle is increasing the launch cadence of Electron and driving the cost down so people can use the advantage that dedicated launch really provides."

- The first Neutron launch is scheduled for 2024 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The vehicle will leverage the infrastructure the company built at Launch Complex 2 there for the Electron rocket, which will make its debut from that pad later this year. Rocket Lab said it's "assessing locations across America" for a factory that would handle large-scale production of Neutron.

- Rocket Lab is part of a surge of deals involving SPACs, which offer companies a faster route to going public than the traditional initial public offering process. Virgin Galactic merged with a SPAC, Social Capital Hedosophia, in 2019, a deal that raised $460 million for Virgin and allowed it to go public on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2019.

- In the last several months, four other space companies have announced plans to merge with SPACs. Last fall, in-space transportation company Momentus and satellite communications company AST SpaceMobile announced plans to merge with SPACs, deals that have yet to close. In February, small launch vehicle developer Astra and geospatial intelligence company BlackSky also announced mergers with SPACs.

- "I think that it was the Virgin deal that got most people looking at SPACs and charging ahead," said James Murray of PJT Partners, an investment banking company, at the SmallSat Symposium in February. "I don't think this is going to slow down in the very near future."

• November 14, 2020: The first launch of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket from a site in the United States won't take place until 2021 because of problems with the flight termination system NASA requires the rocket to use. 7)

Figure 4: A Rocket Lab Electron during tests earlier this year at its LC-2 launch site at Wallops Island, Virginia. The rocket's first launch is now scheduled for no earlier than the first half of 2021 (image credit: Rocket Lab)
Figure 4: A Rocket Lab Electron during tests earlier this year at its LC-2 launch site at Wallops Island, Virginia. The rocket's first launch is now scheduled for no earlier than the first half of 2021 (image credit: Rocket Lab)

- Rocket Lab had planned to conduct the first launch from its Launch Complex (LC) 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia, this year. The company completed the launch site in December 2019, stating at the time it anticipated performing the first launch there, of a U.S. military Space Test Program mission called STP-27RM, in the second quarter of 2020.

- Preparations for that launch were slowed by the pandemic, but Rocket Lab said in the spring it anticipated a launch in the fall. The company performed a dress rehearsal of the launch in the spring, including a static-fire test of the rocket's nine first-stage engines.

- One reason for the delay, Rocket Lab said, was that it was waiting on NASA to certify the autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) that will be used on the rocket to provide range safety. NASA controls the launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility, where LC-2 is located. "There's a very long certification process that, quite frankly, we probably underestimated how long it would take," Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in an interview in August.

- That certification process is ongoing. In a Nov. 10 talk at a Maryland Space Business Roundtable webinar, David Pierce, director of NASA Wallops, mentioned preparations for Rocket Lab's first launch as part of an overview of the facility's activities. "We're really proud of our work with Rocket Lab," he said. "We're working really hard to support Rocket Lab with a launch in '21."

- Asked later about the certification of the AFTS, Pierce said that engineers had kept on schedule with the development of the system into the summer despite the pandemic. "When they sent the unit out for review of the software, we found some errors," he said. That review involved teams at NASA's Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, the Federal Aviation Administration, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

- Engineers are now working to address those problems, the number or severity of which he didn't elaborate on. "We expect that, under the current rate in which we're developing and correcting the code errors, we should be ready to certify that unit in the first half of '21," he said.

- That unit, he added, will also be available to other companies launching from Wallops. "We're in this for the long haul," he said. "We recognize it's a game-changing technology, so we want to do it and release it to private industry as soon as it's safe to do so."

- Rocket Lab spokesperson Morgan Bailey confirmed Nov. 12 that completion of the AFTS is the final step before the company will be ready to launch from Wallops. "The launch vehicle and pad are ready for launch," she said. "The final step is NASA certification of their AFTS and the timing for completion of that is being driven by NASA."

- Rocket Lab's upcoming milestone is the company's first attempt to recover the first stage of Electron after launch. That mission, called "Return to Sender," is now scheduled for launch no earlier than Nov. 18 from the company's LC-1 launch site in New Zealand.

- The company plans to conduct recovery efforts, as part of its plans to reuse the Electron first stage, only at its New Zealand launch site initially. However, Beck said the company envisions eventually recovering first stages during launches from LC-2 as well.

- "The plan is to work through all the initial recovery development down at LC-1 because it's just a much easier range," he said. "But once we get it all sorted, there's no reason why we wouldn't bring it to LC-2 as well."

• September 17, 2020: Rocket Lab completed a wet dress rehearsal of the Electron vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia. With this major milestone complete, the Electron launch vehicle, launch team, and the LC-2 pad systems are now ready for Rocket Lab's first launch from U.S. soil. The mission is a dedicated launch for the United States Space Force in partnership with the Department of Defense's Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center's Small Launch and Targets Division. 8)

- The wet dress rehearsal is a crucial final exercise conducted by the launch team to ensure all systems and procedures are working perfectly ahead of launch day. The Electron launch vehicle was rolled out to the pad, raised vertical and filled with high grade kerosene and liquid oxygen to verify fueling procedures. The launch team then flowed through the integrated countdown to T-0 to carry out the same operations they will undertake on launch day. Before a launch window can be set, NASA is conducting the final development and certification of its Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) software for the mission. This flight will be the first time an AFTS has been has flown from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and represents a valuable new capability for the spaceport.

- Launch Complex 2 supplements Rocket Lab's existing site, Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, from which 14 Electron missions have already launched. The two launch complexes combined can support more than 130 launch opportunities every year to deliver unmatched flexibility for rapid, responsive launch to support a resilient space architecture. Operating two launch complexes in diverse geographic locations provides an unrivalled level of redundancy and assures access to space regardless of disruption to any one launch site.

- "Responsive launch is the key to resilience in space and this is what Launch Complex 2 enables," said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive. "All satellites are vulnerable, be it from accidental or deliberate actions. By operating a proven launch vehicle from two launch sites on opposite sides of the world, Rocket Lab delivers unmatched flexibility and responsiveness for the defense and national security community to quickly replace any disabled satellite. We're immensely proud to be delivering reliable and flexible launch capability to the U.S. Space Force and the wider defense community as space becomes an increasingly contested domain."

- While the launch team carried out this week's wet dress rehearsal, construction is nearing completion on the Rocket Lab Integration and Control Facility (ICF) within the Wallops Research Park, adjacent to NASA Wallops Flight Facility Main Base. The ICF houses a launch control center, state-of-the-art payload integration facilities, and a vehicle integration department that enables the processing of multiple Electron vehicles to support multiple launches in rapid succession. The build has been carried out in just a few short months thanks to the tireless support of Virginia Space, Governor Northam, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, and Accomack County.

• October 17, 2018: US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed it will build its first US launch pad for the Electron rocket at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA. The site will be Rocket Lab's second dedicated launch complex and builds on Rocket Lab's existing ability to launch up to 120 times annually from the world's only private launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, in New Zealand. 9)

- Launch Complex 2 will be capable of supporting monthly orbital launches and is designed to serve US government and commercial missions. The site brings Rocket Lab's global launch availability across two launch complexes to more than 130 missions per year. The option to select from two launch sites adds an extra layer of flexibility for small satellite customers, offering an unmatched ability to rapidly deploy space-based assets with confidence and precision from a preferred location.

- "Accessing space should be simple, seamless and tailored to our customers' missions - from idea to orbit. Launching from a second pad builds on Rocket Lab's ability to offer the small satellite industry unmatched schedule and launch location flexibility," said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. "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."

- "We've worked closely with the experienced and welcoming teams from Virginia Space and the MARS (Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport) at Wallops to design a pad and processes that will enable an agile and streamlined approach to small satellite launch on US soil," he added.

- Rocket Lab will work with Virginia Space to construct dedicated pad infrastructure at the site, tailored to the Electron launch vehicle. In addition to the pad, Rocket Lab will develop a Launch Vehicle Integration and Assembly Facility in the Wallops Research Park to support the simultaneous integration of up to four Electron vehicles. The facility will also contain a control room with connectivity to LC-2, as well as dedicated customer facilities. This new facility, combined with the purpose-built gantry located at LC-2, will provide significant and dedicated vehicle processing capability and flexibility to meet Rocket Lab's high launch cadence.

- Through construction and day-to-day operations, Rocket Lab expects to create around 30 jobs immediately to directly support Launch Complex 2, with this number predicted to increase to approximately 100 as launch frequency increases. The development of Launch Complex 2 will also see Rocket Lab continue to expand Electron rocket production at the company's headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, to supply complete launch vehicles for government and commercial customers.

- "We are honored to be Rocket Lab's selection for Launch Complex 2" stated Dale Nash, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. "There is an incredible synergy between Virginia Space and Rocket Lab and we are proud to support their missions launching from U.S. soil. We'd like to thank Rocket Lab for their confidence in our team. Virginia Space and MARS employees are standing ready to do everything we can to ensure successful, safe and timely launch missions for Rocket Lab just as we do for every customer of the Spaceport."

- Bill Wrobel, director of NASA Wallops, said, "Wallops has more than 70 years of experience successfully supporting missions using suborbital as well as small and medium-class orbital launch vehicles. We look forward, along with our partner Virginia Space and its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, to supporting Rocket Lab's Electron missions and expanding commercial launch operations from Wallops."

- Four spaceports were shortlisted to become Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, including Cape Canaveral, Wallops Flight Facility, Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Wallops Flight Facility made the final cut thanks to high flight frequency available from the site, as well as rapid construction timelines that will see Rocket Lab target the first Electron launch from US soil Q3 2019.

- Rocket Lab continues to assess additional launch sites in the US and internationally to provide additional launch flexibility for small satellite customers. The company also maintains agreements with Cape Canaveral in Florida and Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska to conduct launches from existing pads as required.



1) Keith Koehler, "NASA Wallops Welcomes Rocket Lab's Neutron to its Multi-User Facility," NASA Feature, 28 February 2022, URL:

2) Jeff Foust, "Rocket Lab launches Electron rocket, selects Virginia for Neutron factory," SpaceNews, 1 March 2022, URL:

3) Rocket Lab Reveals Neutron Launch Vehicle's Advanced Architecture," Rocket Lab Press Release, 2 December 2021, URL:, ,

4) Chris Gebhardt,"Neutron switches to methane/oxygen, 1 Meganewton Archimedes engine revealed," NASA, 2 December 2021, URL:

5) Jeff Foust, "Rocket Lab to go public through SPAC merger and develop medium-lift rocket," SpaceNews, 1 March 2021, URL:

6) "Rocket Lab Unveils Plans for New 8-Ton Class Reusable Rocket for Mega-Constellation Deployment," Businesswire, 01 March 2021, URL:

7) Jeff Foust, "First Rocket Lab U.S. launch delayed to 2021," SpaceNews, 14 November 2020, URL:

8) "Rocket Lab Completes Final Dress Rehearsal at Launch Complex 2 Ahead of First Electron Mission from U.S. Soil," RocketLabUSA, 17 September 2020, URL:

9) "Rocket Lab selects Wallops Flight Facility for US launch site," RocketLabUSA, 17 October 2018, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (