Rocket Lab Selects NASA Stennis Space Center for Neutron Engine Test Facility

LONG BEACH, CA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced that it has renovated NASA’s historic Stennis Space Center in Mississippi as Site selected its engine test facility for its Neutron reusable rocket.

The Archimedes Test Complex will be located within the larger A Test Complex at the Stennis Space Center on a 1 million square foot site for 10 years with an option to extend the lease for an additional 10 years. The Archimedes Test Complex will include the exclusive use and development of the Center’s existing industrial infrastructure and A-3 test facility to develop and test Neutron’s reusable Archimedes engines. Rocket Lab has also secured a capital investment incentive from the Mississippi Development Authority to further develop the facilities and infrastructure at Stennis for Neutron. With the addition of the Archimedes Test Complex to the Stennis Space Center, Rocket Lab is expected to create dozens of new jobs and make significant capital investments in the state of Mississippi.

Neutron is Rocket Lab’s reusable rocket in development, designed to be a low-cost, reliable, and responsive launch service to help build megaconstellations, deliver large spacecraft to near-Earth, geostationary, and interplanetary destinations, and sustain a sustained human presence in space. Neutron is powered by in-house designed and manufactured reusable Archimedes rocket engines and an advanced upper stage to provide high performance for complex satellite missions.

Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck says, “Before rockets went to the moon, they first had to fly through Mississippi, and as we build a new rocket to once again reshape access to space, Stennis is a fitting location for neutron. Creating a test complex from scratch on the scale and complexity required to test and develop Archimedes would have taken an unimaginably long lead time, so the fact that we have secured Stennis and can leverage his existing infrastructure and test bed , brings us to the fast track. Track for Neutron’s first launch. The icing on the cake is having fantastic partners like NASA and the state of Mississippi behind us to bring innovative rocketry, economic development and new jobs to the Gulf Coast.”

Rocket Lab Vice President – Launch Systems, Shaun D’Mello, says, “NASA Stennis and Mississippi’s strong support, willingness and flexibility to bring Neutron engine test facilities to the state made Stennis an ideal location over other potential sites. The Stennis Space Center’s rocket engine testing legacy, established infrastructure and skilled workforce will both fuel Neutron’s development and help expand Mississippi’s already robust aerospace testing capabilities and provide the state with a future in the development of innovative technologies to back up.”

Rocket Lab expects to quickly begin construction of the Archimedes Test Complex at the Stennis Space Center. At the same time, construction on the Wallops Island neutron production complex and launch site within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s east coast is proceeding at a rapid pace. Together, the two locations represent over two million square feet of operations for Neutron’s manufacturing, testing and launch facilities. Further Neutron expansion continues in the United States as the program progresses towards the first launch.


  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves: “In the aerospace industry everything is going well in Mississippi. Because our country offers a first-class location for innovative research, a well-trained workforce and innovative technology development. Rocket Lab is a wonderful addition to the impressive lineup of global leaders who call NASA’s Stennis Space Center home, and I’m delighted to welcome them here.”
  • US Senator Roger Wicker: “American leadership in space crosses Mississippi, and it’s great to see more companies partnering with the Stennis Space Center as a growing hub of our nation’s aerospace industry. I appreciate Rocket Lab using Stennis’ ‘A-3’ test rig, which Congress saved from demolition in 2010. Rocket Lab will bring quality jobs and technology to Mississippi for years to come.”
  • US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith: “The Stennis Space Center holds a special place in American aerospace history, and Mississippi welcomes Rocket Lab to use this amazing test facility to extend that legacy. His work will continue Stennis’ key role in the development and testing of engines that will help usher in a new generation of aerospace achievements. I especially appreciate that the Rocket Lab agreement includes a partnership with NASA, the state of Mississippi and our beautiful Gulf Coast.”
  • US Congressman Steven Palazzo: “I applaud Rocket Lab for its decision to use the unique facilities at the Stennis Space Center to advance its space missions,” said Congressman Steven Palazzo. “South Mississippi has long been an integral part of the space journey for both the public and private sectors. Not only the infrastructure, but also the people create a receptive environment for business partnerships. I look forward to Rocket Lab’s future at Stennis and in space innovation and exploration.”

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+ About Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with a proven track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacturing, spacecraft components and on-orbit management solutions that make access to space faster, easier and less expensive. Rocket Lab, headquartered in Long Beach, California, designs and manufactures the small orbital Electron launch vehicle and the Photon satellite platform, and the company is developing the Neutron launch vehicle for use in constellations. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has been the second most-launched U.S. rocket per year and has put 150 satellites into orbit for private and public sector organizations to support national security, scientific research, and global operations to enable containment of space debris, earth observation, climate monitoring and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform was selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA, which is expected to be operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www.


Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi is a federal city operated by NASA since 1961. More than 40 local agencies, organizations, universities and companies share operating costs while pursuing individual missions as a model for fiscal efficiency. If the combined workforce of more than 5,000 employees were counted as a single entity, Stennis would rank among the 10 largest Mississippi companies. The location is a major economic driver for the Gulf Coast region with an average direct annual impact of more than $625 million within a 50 mile radius.


This press release may contain certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements, including without limitation, are based on expectations regarding the development, performance and engineering design of the Neutron rocket architecture and related components, and the construction, timing, capabilities and benefits of the Neutron production and launch complex Rocket Lab’s current expectations and beliefs regarding future developments and their potential impact on statements made by Rocket Lab. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond Rocket Lab’s control) or other assumptions that could cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release, including risks related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, including risks related to government restrictions and lockdowns in New Zealand and other countries where we operate which may delay or suspend our operations; delays and disruptions in expansion efforts; our dependence on a limited number of customers; the harsh and unpredictable environment of space in which our products operate, which could affect our launch vehicle and spacecraft; increased congestion from the proliferation of low-Earth orbiting constellations that could significantly increase the risk of potential collision with space debris or other spacecraft and limit or impair our launch flexibility and/or access to our own orbital slots; increased competition in our industry due in part to rapid technological advances and falling costs; technological changes in our industry which we may not be able to keep up with or which may make our services uncompetitive; average sales price development; failure of our launch vehicles, satellites and components to function as designed, either due to design or manufacturing errors by us or through no fault of our own; disruptions to the launch schedule; supply chain disruptions, product delays or failures; design and construction errors; startup error; natural disasters and epidemics or pandemics; changes in government regulations, including those relating to trade and export restrictions, or the status of our government permits or applications; or other events compelling us to cancel or reschedule departures, including customer contractual rescheduling and termination rights; risks that acquisitions will not close in expected time frames or at all, or will not achieve anticipated benefits and results; and the other risks identified from time to time in Rocket Lab’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere (including that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the risks discussed therein can also worsen). There can be no guarantee that future developments affecting Rocket Lab will be those we foreseen. Except as required by law, Rocket Lab undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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