Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab”, or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today revealed it has selected NASA’s historic Stennis Space Center in Mississippi as the location of its engine test facility for its reusable rocket, Neutron.
The Archimedes Test Complex will be located within the larger A Test Complex at Stennis Space Center across a 1 million square foot area for 10 years, with an option to extend the lease for an additional 10 years. The Archimedes Test Complex will include exclusive use and development of existing industrial NASA infrastructure and the Center’s A-3 Test Stand to develop and test Neutron’s Archimedes reusable engines. Rocket Lab has also secured a capital investment incentive from the Mississippi Development Authority to further develop the facilities and infrastructure at Stennis for Neutron. By expanding Stennis Space Center to include the Archimedes Test Complex, Rocket Lab is expected to create dozens of new jobs and make significant capital investments in the state of Mississippi.
Neutron is Rocket Lab’s reusable rocket in development, designed as a cost-effective, reliable, and responsive launch service to help build mega-constellations, deliver large spacecraft to low-Earth orbit, geostationary orbit, and interplanetary destinations, and to support a sustained human presence in space. Neutron will be powered by in-house designed and manufactured Archimedes reusable rocket engines and an advanced upper stage to enable high performance for complex satellite deployments.
Rocket Lab Founder and CEO, Peter Beck, says: “Before rockets flew to the Moon, they first had to go through Mississippi, and as we build a new rocket to reshape space access once again, Stennis is a fitting location for Neutron. Creating a test complex from scratch to the scale and complexity needed to test and develop Archimedes would have had an inconceivably long lead time, so the fact that we’ve secured Stennis and can leverage its existing infrastructure and test stand puts us on the fast-track to Neutron’s first launch. The icing on the cake is having fantastic partners like NASA and the state of Mississippi behind us to bring innovative rocketry, economic development, and new jobs to the Gulf Coast.”
Rocket Lab Vice President – Launch Systems, Shaun D’Mello, says: “The strong support, readiness and flexibility from NASA Stennis and Mississippi to bring engine test operations for Neutron to the state made Stennis the ideal location over other potential sites. Stennis Space Center’s legacy in rocket engine testing, established infrastructure, and skilled workforce will be both a boost to Neutron’s development and help grow Mississippi’s already robust aerospace test capabilities, securing a future for the state in innovative technology development.”
Rocket Lab expects to begin construction on the Archimedes Test Complex at Stennis Space Center quickly. At the same time, construction is continuing at pace on the Neutron Production Complex and launch site at Wallops Island, within the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Combined, the two sites represent over two million square feet of operations for Neutron’s production, testing, and launch facilities. Further Neutron expansion will continue throughout the United States as the program develops toward first launch.
- The Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves: “When it comes to the aerospace industry, it’s all systems go in Mississippi. That’s because our state offers a prime location for innovative research, well-trained workers, and innovative technology development. Rocket Lab is a wonderful addition to the impressive range of global leaders who call NASA’s Stennis Space Center home and I’m excited to welcome them here.”
- U.S. Senator Roger Wicker: “American leadership in outer space runs through Mississippi, and it is great to see more companies partnering with Stennis Space Center as a growing hub of our nation’s aerospace industry. I appreciate that Rocket Lab is using Stennis’s 'A-3' test stand, which Congress saved from demolition in 2010. Rocket Lab will bring quality jobs and technology to Mississippi for years to come.”
- U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith: “The Stennis Space Center has a special place in American aerospace history, and Mississippi eagerly welcomes Rocket Lab to use this fantastic test facility to add to this legacy. Its work will continue Stennis’ key role in development and testing of the engines that will help usher in a new generation of achievements in aerospace and space exploration. I particularly appreciate that the Rocket Lab agreement involves partnership with NASA, the State of Mississippi, and our wonderful Gulf Coast.”
- U.S. Congressman Steven Palazzo: “I applaud Rocket Lab on their decision to utilize the unique facilities at Stennis Space Center to further their space missions,” said Congressman Steven Palazzo. “South Mississippi has long been a staple in the pathway to space for both the public and private sectors. Not only the infrastructure, but the people too, create a receptive environment for business partnerships. I look forward to Rocket Lab’s future at Stennis and in space innovation and exploration.”
About Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 150 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
About STENNIS SPACE CENTER
Stennis Space Center, located near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is a federal city operated by NASA since 1961. More than 40 onsite agencies, organizations, universities, and companies share operating costs, while pursuing individual missions, as a model of fiscal efficiency. If their combined workforces of more than 5,000 employees were counted as a single entity, Stennis would rank among the Top 10 Mississippi companies in size. The site is a major economic engine for the Gulf Coast region, with an average direct annual impact of more than $625 million within a 50-mile radius.
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 as well as the construction, timing, capabilities and benefits of the Neutron production and launch complex, 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.