Human launches could be on the way for Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, according to Accomack Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Wolf.
Wolf said the company Rocket Lab is working to transport humans to space in addition to the Electron rockets that have been launched at the facility.
Rocket Lab is launching Electron rockets to place small satellites in orbit from Wallops, but its larger version, the Neutron, could become certified to carry humans into space, said Rocket Lab CEO Robert Beck in an interview with CNBC.
The organization hopes to develop a larger rocket and launch larger payloads from the Wallops pad as early as 2024.
SpaceX is the sole U.S. company that regularly flies astronauts, with NASA recently certifying its Falcon 9 rocket for human spaceflight, according to Beck. Neutron would be capable of lifting a spacecraft that holds three people — although that will depend on the design of the spacecraft itself.
Neutron will launch from the pad the company has built at NASA’s Wallops flight facility in Virginia.
Wallops plans to launch the Black Brant XII rocket on Saturday, May 15, no earlier than 8:10 p.m.
Black Brant XII, carrying the KiNET-X payload, is a four-stage sounding rocket that can reach altitudes over 200 miles above Earth’s surface, according to NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
NASA Wallops Visitor Center will not be open for viewing, but may be visible from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River as it thunders overhead.