Rocket company to build new engine test complex at NASA’s Mississippi Space Center – Reuters

Rocket company to build new engine test complex at NASA’s Mississippi Space Center

Posted at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 6, 2022

NASA’s Stennis Space Center and Rocket Lab USA reached a new agreement Nov. 4 for the aerospace company to locate its engine test complex at the rocket propulsion site near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

NASA, Rocket Lab and elected officials gathered at the Stennis Test Complex for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the launch of the new 10-year agreement. Rocket Lab plans to make a substantial capital investment in the project in the coming years and also create dozens of jobs in the surrounding region.

“We are delighted that Rocket Lab has chosen Stennis Space Center for the development of its new test complex,” said Rick Gilbrech, Director of Stennis Space Center. “With the finalization of this agreement, we look forward to working with Rocket Lab as it grows and progresses towards achieving its space goals. This presents an exciting opportunity not only for Stennis, but also for the Gulf Coast region and the entire state of Mississippi.

With the new agreement, the A-3 test bed and approximately 24 surrounding acres at Stennis will be integrated into the Archimedes Test Complex. Archimedes is Rocket Lab’s new liquid oxygen and liquid methane rocket engine that will power its large reusable Neutron rocket.

Rocket Lab will have exclusive access to use and develop the A-3 test bed area, including the docks and associated booster barge buildings. The initial 10-year agreement includes an option to extend for another 10 years.

The Mississippi Development Authority is helping Rocket Lab develop the new site and move and install the necessary equipment.

“Only a few weeks ago we announced that Stennis would be the location of our Archimedes test facility and we are already hard at work getting the site up and running to deliver Neutron,” said Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. . “Through our partnership with NASA and the State of Mississippi, we can begin to expand the existing infrastructure and test bed at Stennis to accelerate the first Neutron launch. We can’t wait to spit fire in the great state of Mississippi.

Rocket Lab, founded in 2006, is headquartered in Long Beach, California. It is already building and flying Electron rockets for launching small satellites. Its new Neutron rocket is designed as the world’s first carbon composite rocket to send large spacecraft into low Earth orbit and support a sustained human presence in space. It will be powered by Rocket Lab’s reusable Archimedes engines and an advanced upper stage for complex satellite deployments.

“This agreement with Rocket Lab is part of an ongoing process to attract space companies to Stennis and create economic opportunities for the region,” said Duane Armstrong, director of the Stennis Strategic Business Development Office. “The partnership and infrastructure already in place at Stennis will significantly reduce the time it takes for Rocket Lab to develop their new engines and create this new launch vehicle, which will provide services to NASA, other parts of the federal government, and the ‘industry.”

Rocket Lab plans to begin construction at the Archimedes Test Complex in Stennis to construct two newly constructed horizontal engine test cells for single engine testing. As testing of the Archimedes engine begins, Rocket Lab also plans to build an additional test cell with the ability to test individual engine components.

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