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Rocket Lab To Develop Third Launch Pad

The new pad, located at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, is designed to streamline launch operations and will create 15 local roles across engineering, logistics, and support functions

Mahia, New Zealand. 19 December 2019 – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, will develop a new launch pad located at Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. The new pad will be the company’s third launch pad for the Electron launch vehicle, joining the existing pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and the newly opened pad at Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, USA.

The new pad, to be named Launch Complex 1 Pad B, is the latest in a series of developments by Rocket Lab to support frequent and responsive launch capability for small satellites, including manufacturing automation at the company’s Auckland Production Complex, and continued development of recovery technology that will make Electron a reusable rocket.

“Launch Complex 1 is the gateway to space for small satellites that help us better understand our planet, manage resources, and connect with each other,” says Rocket Lab’s Vice President – Launch, Shaun’ D’Mello. “We’ve launched satellites that provide accurate weather and climate modelling; deliver internet connectivity from space; enable new methods of eliminating space junk; conduct scientific research; and much more. The addition of a second launch pad will enable more of these payloads to reach orbit, while also growing our local team of employees and suppliers.”

Initially opened in 2016, Launch Complex 1 encompasses a launch pad, range control operations, and vehicle integration facilities equipped to process two Electron vehicles simultaneously. The site is also home to two 100K class cleanrooms for payload processing, each with dedicated customer rooms.

More than 25 people are currently employed at Launch Complex 1 across a range of engineering, logistics, administration, and trades roles, and more than 300 suppliers across the Hawkes Bay have supported local Rocket Lab operations. With the creation of a second pad at Launch Complex 1 and gradually increased launch activity, more than 15 new roles will be available at Launch Complex 1 in the next 12-18 months.

Pad B will be built within the existing area leased by Rocket Lab from Onenui Station, with no additional land required or new buildings to be built as part of the development. Preparatory work for the pad’s construction is currently underway with local Wairoa District business Quality Roading and Services, with the site scheduled for completion in late 2020.

George Mackey, spokesperson for Onenui Station's owners Tawapata South Incorporation says, “It’s pleasing to see the progress that Rocket Lab has made in a very short period of time. We’re looking forward to more successful missions from Launch Complex 1 as the new launch pad comes into operation next year.”

Pad B will replicate the layout and systems of the current operational Pad A, including a 7.6-ton strongback and launch mount for the Electron vehicle. Pad B will also make use of existing shared infrastructure, including the vehicle integration facility and range control.

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