Calling the opportunity enormous, the Accomack County Board of Supervisors approved three rezoning requests that will allow Rocket Lab to manufacture their proposed Neutron Rocket on 28 acres near the Wallops gate. The site is currently a chicken farm that is in the process of being demolished and is zoned agricultural. The building will be large enough to either build the rockets either horizontally or vertically although that hasn’t yet been decided. If built, it would be the largest building on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The facility will allow Rocket Lab to build the rockets on site, which would appear to be a big advantage. Rocket Lab anticipates launching as many as 12 of the 150ft. by 16 ft. rockets per year which can carry as much as 18,000 lbs of cargo into space each trip. This could include humans as well in the future.
Retiring MARS Director Dale Nash told the board that while there are other sites under consideration, this motion by the board could result in 250 jobs at the new facility and that because of the intern program with the Eastern Shore Community College, it is hoped that most of those jobs will be filled locally.
Nash said that the Neutron Rocket would be reusable which would mean the first stage would either return to a barge in the ocean or a site on dry land.
Nash also said that the plan would be for MARS to construct the massive building and lease it long term to Rocket Lab.
There will be hazardous materials housed at the site but Nash told the Board that much of that includes materials most of us have in our garages. There will be fuel for satellites but that would be safely stored and closely monitored.
Rocket Lab chose Wallops as a launch site three years ago. They haven’t launched yet but their current launch series will begin as soon as the vehicles are certified.
Nash said that by voting affirmatively, the Board would put Accomack County and Wallops on the ‘world stage”.