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Virginia approves new rocket site

July 26, 2021

By Chris Forrester

The Accomack Board of Supervisors in Virginia have approved the rezoning of 26 acres of land that is currently zoned for agricultural use. Its most recent usage was as a chicken farm. But it is the acreages close proximity to the existing Wallops Island rocket launch facility that makes the changes valuable.

The beneficiaries are Rocket Lab, an existing rocket builder but which wants to expand locally and build a new Neutron medium-class rocket that would stand 150ft tall and 16ft in diameter which they would launch from Wallops. Rocket Lab suffered a significant glitch when a May 15th launch of its Electron rocket failed to reach orbit.

The land was already owned by the Virginia Space Flight Authority. They could lease the facility to other space companies. The county hopes if the new Rocket Lab facility were to be built, it would add up to 300 high paying jobs.

According to local reports Rocket Lab anticipates launching as many as 12 of the 150ft x 16ft 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. The Rocket Lab plan calls for its rockets to be reusable and either landing the main booster stage back at Wallops or on a floating barge out at sea.

County leaders say the new facility could be the biggest building ever placed on Accomack County. “This is just a huge benefit for the county, but also it puts Wallops Island, Virginia Space, the NASA facility on the world map,” says Ron Wolff who is the chairman of the board of supervisors for Accomack County. He says the county welcomes space travel companies.

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