Just days after officially opening its Virginia launch pad, Rocket Lab announced today that it has started construction of yet another pad at its original New Zealand home base.
- The new pad, known as Launch Complex 1 Pad B, is due for completion in late 2020. Rocket Lab says LC-1B will support increased launch frequency; enable back-to-back missions within days; and ensure that a pad is always ready to support rapid call-up launch. The existing pad at New Zealand’s Launch Complex 1 will be LC-1A.
- Launch Complex 1 is licensed for up to 120 liftoffs per year — a cadence that requires having two pads. Launch Complex 2, on Virginia’s Wallops Island, is expected to handle up to 12 launches per year, beginning in early 2020 with an Air Force satellite mission.
- Like SpaceX, California-based Rocket Lab is considered a “space unicorn” with a valuation in excess of $1 billion. Unlike SpaceX, the company concentrates on the low end of the launch market, focusing on payloads in the range of 330 to 500 pounds. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket is one of the favored vehicles for small-satellite launches arranged through Seattle-based Spaceflight.