Rocket Lab’s new launch pad is complete and ready to launch next week

Rocket Lab has been working on adding multiple launch locations for its Electron rocket for the past few years. Finally, the company’s second pad in New Zealand is ready, and Rocket Lab is showing it off with dual rockets.

Launch Complex 1B in New Zealand is Rocket Lab’s newest addition to its launch facilities. This pad shares infrastructure with Pad A, including three satellite cleanrooms, a launch vehicle assembly hanger, and administrative offices.

With Pad B we’ve kept things efficient. Its systems and layout replicates Pad A and shares much of Pad A’s infrastructure including the Electron vehicle integration hangar, runway to the pad, and our own range control facility. With that we’ve been able to double our operational capacity – all on a concrete area smaller than the average tennis court. I’m hugely proud of what the team has achieved: building and bringing a second pad online, all while continuing to service and operate Pad A for our Electron launches to date, and in the middle of a global pandemic no less.

Shaun D’Mello, Vice President – Launch, Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s Pad A (left) with rocket for NASA’s CAPSTONE rocket and Pad B (right) with an Electron for the company’s next launch for Synspective. Credit: Rocket Lab

Alongside Pad A, the new addition will double Electron’s launch capability. When paired with Rocket Lab’s North American launch site, LC-2, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, the company can support a total of 132 launch opportunities a year.

Of those, 120 come from LC-1, showing the benefit of operating your own spaceport free from sharing space and range assets with other companies.

First LC-1B launch as soon as next week

Rocket Lab plans to conduct LC-1B’s first launch next week. The Electron rocket will carry the first of three dedicated missions for Synspective, a geospatial data collector from Japan. While this Electron will sport the red finishings of a reusable rocket, Rocket Lab will not recover the vehicle. Instead, it will only test new hardware for future reusable Electron.

Payload fairing with Rocket Lab’s next launch for Synspective’s logo and mission patch. Credit: Rocket Lab

Following Rocket Lab’s LC-1B launch, the company will put its dual pads to use and attempt to launch NASA’s CAPSTONE mission from Pad A on March 19. Rocket Lab has consistently stated it is pushing for a rapid launch capability. While 19 days isn’t groundbreaking for the industry, it’s a huge step in the right direction for the company.

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