Vector Plans 3 Orbital Launches From Wallops Island

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) additive manufactured injector by was successfully hot fire tested by Vector Space System on Dec. 8, 2016 using Liquid Oxygen/Propylene propellant (LOX/LC3H6). This work was performed under a 2015 STMD ACO Space Act Agreement. (Credit: Vector Space System)

RICHMOND, Va. (Terry McAuliffe PR) – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Vector, a nanosatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, has entered into an agreement with Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space) to conduct three commercial orbital missions out of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in the next 24 months with an option for five additional launches.

Vector also transported a Vector-R launch vehicle engineering unit from the company’s headquarters in Tucson, Ariz. to MARS, to showcase an initial set of ground and simulated propellant loading operations with an associated Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL).

“As home to one of only four spaceports in the nation that launches to orbit, the Commonwealth of Virginia is the best place to do business both on and off this planet,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We’re thrilled to welcome Vector as a customer of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. It is a testament to Virginia’s highly skilled workforce and state-of-the-art facilities for this dynamic 21st century company to choose MARS as a launch site. I am proud of the work we have done to improve and protect the MARS Spaceport and I look forward to partnering with Vector as the company continues to grow and providing a business climate that contributes to its continued success.”

The event, which included remarks from Vector’s Chief Technology Officer, John Garvey; Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Aubrey Layne; Director of Wallops Flight Facility, Bill Wrobel; and Executive Director of Virginia Space, Dale Nash, highlighted the opportunity to showcase the Vector-R launch vehicle and concept of operations (CONOPS) to key members of the Virginia Space community, stimulate discussions regarding future launch operations and familiarize Vector personnel with NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

“We are very pleased to add another launch customer at MARS,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne who also serves as the Chair of the Virginia Space Board of Directors. “The organization continues to focus strategic planning efforts on attracting new launch customers to utilize the excellent facilities and capabilities provided by Virginia Space and NASA Wallops. The addition of Vector to the launch customer portfolio helps establish Virginia as a leading industry hub and it is a great way to maximize the return on the existing Commonwealth investment at MARS.”

“When initial discussions with Vector began, we all quickly understood that this partnership would be excellent fit between Vector’s needs and the capabilities that could be provided by both MARS and NASA Wallops Flight Facility,” commented Virginia Space Executive Director & CEO Dale Nash.  By leveraging the talent and expertise already present in the MARS workforce and creatively using the Spaceport assets at Pad 0B, the opportunity existed for Vector to quickly capitalize on MARS infrastructure to promote and develop their business through the contracted launch operations.”

These initial flights from MARS are part of a series of orbital launches which will further enable Vector to validate technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations, and firmly establish commercial launch sites for the future.

“This agreement with Virginia Space represents a significant milestone for Vector as we continue to deliver on our mission of making space open for business,” said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector. “Today’s events mark the start of a strong and growing partnership between Vector and Virginia Space, and we look forward to continuing our momentum with their support to get to an orbital capability in 2018.”

About Vector

Founded by the original founding team of SpaceX, Vector is a disruptive company that connects space startups and innovators with dedicated, affordable and reliable launch services, enabling platforms and vehicles to access space efficiently and in a more optimized way than ever before possible. For more information, visit

About Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and the MARS UMS Airfield, providing launch pads for ISS cargo delivery, scientific, DoD and commercial missions and a runway for drone testing.  Collocated on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia, the mission of Virginia Space and MARS is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space.  For more information, visit

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    What happened to Spaceport Camden? Was the plan only to do that one demo launch there?

    I find their claims of reaching orbit next year…dubious.

  • duheagle

    Vector plans to launch from a lot of places. If things progress as the company hopes, it looks to be doing 100 – 200 launches yearly by the early 2020’s. No single spaceport is likely to be able to handle that kind of cadence by that time, especially if said spaceport has at least one other company also launching from it. Vector intends to maximize its options. So far as I know, Vector’s current plans include, Canaveral, Kodiak, Camden and Wallops as launch sites. That list will likely grow as more coastal places in the U.S. look to get into the spaceport Triple-A League.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Gotcha. I remembered hearing about the Kodiak thing, but didn’t know their plans included *200* launches a year. Ambitious.

  • duheagle

    If you’re chasing a dream it might as well be big.

    I’m also dubious that Vector will make orbit in 2018. If it happens, it’ll likely be near the end of that year. The 200 launches thing may not happen real soon either, but I think the company can probably make decent money on a fraction of that annual volume.

    Vector may never do many – or even any – missions from Canaveral. USAF is talking of gearing up for 48 launches a year, but they aren’t entirely there yet and SpaceX is going to account for close to half that as soon as next year. ULA will chip in at least a half-dozen more.

    USAF is going to have to raise its sights quite a bit to accommodate SpaceX, ULA, Blue, Rocketlab and maybe even the resurrected Firefly at Canaveral in addition to SpaceX as soon as 2019 or 2020. When the big and medium-size dogs are fighting over launch slots, small fry like Vector are likely to be pushed aside.

    But maybe USAF will surprise us, in which case Vector might find a place at the Grownups Table after all.

    At 2nd-tier spaceports, Vector would have a far easier time booking slots. A mission a week from each of Kodiak, Camden and Wallops would get Vector to over 150 per year. That seems quite a doable pace for their small vehicles.

    Another reason I think Vector will make it – even if not on their “aspirational” schedule – is that the principals have all been involved in modest start-ups before and know how to pinch pennies. Garvey Aerospace did that for years. The Vector CEO is a SpaceX alumnus from the very early days when money was tight.