In a ceremony on Monday, Rocket Lab broke ground on a new facility for the company’s upcoming Neutron rocket. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck was joined by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, the director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Dennis Andrucyk, the director of Wallops Flight Facility Dave Pierce, and others for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Neutron is Rocket Lab’s upcoming mega-constellation launcher that is being designed and built from the ground up with reusability in mind. While the company’s Electron rocket has been modified for a parachute descent and catch of its first stage, Neutron is designed to propulsively land back at the launch site, much like SpaceX‘s Falcon 9.
Rocket Lab will build both a launch site and a production facility for Neutron at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Neutron Production Complex will be home to a rocket production, assembly, and integration facility, as well as a dedicated launch pad for the Neutron rocket located on the southern end of Wallops Island. The estimated 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art complex will be constructed on a 28-acre site adjacent to the Wallops Island Flight Facility and will include a Launch Control Center, Rocket Lab’s fifth global operations center for launch activities and on-orbit operations.
The production of the facility was officially announced in February.
Once flying, Neutron will be capable of carrying 8,000kg to low Earth orbit (with a listed maximum of 15,000 kg to low Earth orbit, but that likely would require no recovery). A unique aspect of Neutron is its captive fairing design – the fairing stays connected to the first stage of the rocket.