Rocket company Vector will conduct three commercial missions from Virginia Space's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops launch center.
This is the first orbital contract with a spaceport for Vector, the next major step toward the company's goal of launching more than 100 times per year, chief executive Jim Cantrell told CNBC in an exclusive interview.
"These will go all the way into orbit with satellites onboard," Cantrell said. "We need to break the classic handcuffs on the costs of launching, and that requires people thinking differently."
The Vector-R vehicle is a low-cost rocket intended to meet the growing demand from the microsatellite sector, which is expected to become a $7.5 billion industry in five years. At less than $3 million per launch, Vector is aiming for a 20th the cost of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
An additional advantage for Vector, Cantrell said, is its mobility. Vector requires minimal infrastructure to launch its rockets — as little as a concrete pad.
Vector is targeting its first Wallops launch for July, with two or three more in the second half of the year. The contract includes an option for five more launches, a possibility Cantrell is optimistic about.
Dale Nash, CEO and executive director of Virginia Space, told CNBC that Cantrell's rapid cadence vision is possible from his spaceport.
"It's entirely conceivable that, with the three separate launch locations on Wallops, we could launch three rockets in one day," Nash said.