Rocket Lab Looking into Using the Wallops Islands to Increase their Number of Launches13th Oct 2020
The Wallops Flight Facility was originally a Navy air station built in World War II. Since then, the site has been used to launch more than 16,000 spacecrafts.
The facility was the primary location for the Mercury program, and today it plays a significant role among the space industry’s big players.
How Rocket Lab Comes into the Picture
The company was given the license to fly their Electron rocket by the Federal Aviation Administration. The current partnership of Rocket Lab and Northrop Grumman involves the development of the Wallops station.
This duo is a great partnership that brings success in many different aspects that are each beneficial to one another. Rocket Lab is mainly focused on security issues, while Northrop Grumman specialises in sending resource supplies into the stations already in orbit. They have been focusing on these missions for about twelve months now. The Antares rockets are the spacecraft used for this job with the latest one going airborne from Virginia. Northrop Grumman is making moves to launch their Miniature Air Launched Decoy from the Wallops station as well.
Rocket Lab hopes to get pretty busy to get to a point where they will be launching at least one rocket each month from the site. With this track record, the Wallops will become the second busiest launch site after Cape Canaveral, which has launched 39 rockets just this year.
Where is the Funding Coming From?
So far, the state of Virginia has put approximately $250 million funding into the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
NASA has also given a $15.7 million investment into the operations control centre in 2018.
In addition, Virginia state gave a sum of $15 million in repairing a launchpad after one of the Antares rockets exploded during take-off in 2014.
After Rocket Lab’s announcement to launch their Electron rocket from the site, the investments all made sense. The only hold-back is a sign-off from NASA; the approval is on the abort system if things were to go wrong.
Was Wallops their First Choice?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Their first option was Cape Canaveral, however it seemed too occupied by other companies such as Boeing and SpaceX. Blue Origin is also developing a station for manufacturing on the site.