Photo from Senator Roger Wicker's Twitter.

Rocket Lab’s decision to test rocket engines in MS will lead to significant capital investment, create dozens of jobs in Hancock County.

On Friday, NASA’s Stennis Space Center and Rocket Lab USA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the launch of Rocket Lab’s operations in Mississippi. In 2022, Rocket Lab announced that it would be locating an engine test facility for its new large rocket, Neutron, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

According to a press release, Rocket Lab expects to make a substantial capital investment in the project in upcoming years and also create dozens of jobs for the surrounding area.

With the new agreement, the A-3 Test Stand and about 24 surrounding acres at Stennis will be incorporated into the Archimedes Test Complex. Rocket Lab will have exclusive access to use and develop the A-3 Test Stand area.

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is providing assistance for Rocket Lab to develop the new site as well as relocate and install necessary equipment.

Stennis Space Center Director Rick Gilbrech said they are pleased that Rocket Lab selected Stennis Space Center for development of its new test complex.

“With finalization of this agreement, we look forward to working with Rocket Lab as it develops and moves forward in achieving its space goals,” Gilbrech said. “This represents an exciting opportunity not only for Stennis but also for the Gulf Coast region and the entire state of Mississippi.”

Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, said it was only a few weeks ago when they announced Stennis as the location of their Archimedes Test Complex and they’re already fast at work to get the site up and running to deliver Neutron.

“Thanks to our partnership with NASA and the state of Mississippi, we can begin to develop the existing infrastructure and test stand at Stennis to fast-track Neutron’s first launch,” Beck added. “We look forward to breathing fire in the great state of Mississippi.”

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said this has been a record-shattering week for economic development and new capital investment in Mississippi.

“I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend than by another company opening its doors in Mississippi for the first time,” Governor Reeves said. “Mississippi’s economy is cleared for launch and it’s not touching down anytime soon. Congratulations to Rocket Lab on this incredible milestone.”

NASA, Rocket Lab, and key elected officials gathered in the Stennis Test Complex for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark launch of the new agreement. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) was among elected officials who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

In a Facebook post, Senator Wicker explained that twelve years ago, the A-3 test stand at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center was on its way toward being demolished. 

“After years of work, today I joined officials from Stennis and Rocket Lab to celebrate the start of a new partnership that will make use of this national asset,” Wicker said. “The engines tested here will serve a wide range of commercial, national defense, and NASA rockets. It’s a prime example of private innovators stepping in with solutions to advance the national interest.”