Startup Selects Wallops Flight Facility for US Launch Site - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Startup Selects Wallops Flight Facility for US Launch Site

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Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifts off during its second test flight. (Photo credit: Rocket Lab) Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifts off during its second test flight. (Photo credit: Rocket Lab)

ATLANTIC, Va. (WBOC/AP)- A California-based startup says it will rocket small satellites into orbit from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Rocket Lab said Wednesday that it will build its launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The spaceport is located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility where unmanned cargo missions already launch to the International Space Station.

Huntington Beach, California-based Rocket Lab's endeavor reflects increasing demand from companies and governments alike to use small satellites. They're used to gather images of earth and track anything from ships to weather.

"It falls right in line with what we've been doing here at Wallops," said Keith Koehler, News Chief at NASA Wallops Flight Facility. "We've been supporting commercial launch operations for over thirty years.  So we are real excited about the opportunities it brings."

Rocket Lab already has a working launch pad in New Zealand where it sent its first rocket into orbit in January. The company plans to launch more rockets from there in November and December.

“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.

Rocket Lab said it will start launching from Virginia in the second half of 2019.

Rocket Labs on Wednesday held a groundbreaking event for its new launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. (Photo credit: Rocket Lab)

Commenting on the Wednesday's announcement, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement, "I am proud to welcome Rocket Lab as the newest launch provider at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Rocket Lab’s selection of our Commonwealth for its first launch site and integration facility in the United States is a great win for our growing aerospace industry, and an investment that will generate jobs and increase Virginia’s overall economic competitiveness.”

Rocket Lab said it 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.

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