Rocket launching into the sky with a sunset in the background. Image copy reads "Big Plans for Wallops Flight Facility"

NASA’s lesser-known launch facility in Virginia, the Wallops Flight Facility, is looking to make headlines throughout 2023 and beyond. SpaceX competitor Rocket Labs has made the base their home and has the potential to make regular launches throughout the year. This is a good sign for the aerospace manufacturing sector and companies like Mueller that develop specialized parts and coatings for vital ship parts. 

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has been in service for decades in Chincoteague, VA, primarily operating as a facility for government use. The site also supports missions performed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, including weather balloon launches and other atmospheric testing. Three years ago, startup Rocket Labs moved into the launch location with plans to rival companies like SpaceX in their plans to send tourists to space in the coming years. Now, the company has enough resources to make regular deliveries to the ISS and potentially send passengers to the edge of the atmosphere.  

Rocket Labs is a startup space travel company based in Long Beach, CA. Since 2017, the company has launched over 30 rockets from a launching station in New Zealand. Since 2020, the company set up a base at NASA’s facility in Virginia. Rocket Labs plans to expand its operations further, becoming a commercial business for regular deliveries to space as well as becoming a passenger space travel company for regular flights.  

Rocket Labs has said that they chose to partner with the Wallops Flight Facility primarily due to its availability for regular launches. NASA’s more famous Kennedy Space Center is known for being busy with launches daily while the Wallops facility has much less traffic. Rocket Labs has plans to make regular launches, even as often as monthly launches starting this year, so a less busy facility was needed. 

The rise of passenger space travel will be a great opportunity for companies like Mueller to share our expertise in the aerospace industry. We specialize in vacuum metallization and the manufacturing of a variety of aerospace parts. Flexible circuits, shielding products, and specially coated parts are just a few things Mueller can produce with 3D printing technology for the aerospace industry. 

All signs point to Wallops’ Flight Facility becoming a popular place for the future of space exploration and travel. With Rocket Labs’ success in recent years, more companies are likely to join the industry and become serious competitors to major names like SpaceX. Industry experts predict that passenger travel to the edge of space (and even beyond) will be a major part of the travel industry in as little as a decade. With all these developments, companies will need to partner with organizations like Mueller to develop, prototype, and mass-produce essential parts for their machinery.  

Mueller brings decades of experience to every manufacturing project. We are certified to develop and produce parts that meet the stringent rules and regulations of the AS9100 standards required by aerospace companies and regulators. We are excited to offer its services to any organization that may need prototyping or full production of parts for its aerospace systems. 

Interested in seeing a launch and potential history being made? Find all the scheduled launch dates from Wallops Flight Facility and where to watch them from!