Update at 5:50 PM ET: Rocket Lab reports that it is in HOLD mode for launch tonight at the T-12 minute mark due to high level winds. Tonight’s launch window opens for two hours at 6 PM ET and closes at 8 PM ET.
After years of launching rockets from New Zealand, commercial space company Rocket Lab is ready for their first launch in the United States.
California-based Rocket lab Its first mission will launch from US soil today (December 18) from NASA’s new Launch Complex 2 Wallops flight facility On Wallops Island, Virginia. The task that will use the Electron missile To launch three HawkEye 360 satellites into orbit, they’ll launch during a two-hour window that opens at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) and you can watch them live in the window above for free. Rocket Lab will begin launching the webcast about 40 minutes before take-off.
“Obviously this is a significant milestone for Rocket Lab. It’s great to be at this point,” CEO Peter Beck told reporters at a pre-opening press conference on December 14. Rocket lab Initially aiming for a December 13 launchbut pushed the take-off back to perform additional checks, weather, and complete final flight paperwork.
Vision Lab Rocket Launch!
Rocket Lab’s first rocket launch in the United States could be visible to millions along the East Coast! Here where and when to look. If you see it, let us know with photos and comments at [email protected]!
Sunday’s launch, titled “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” (a play on the state’s tourism motto “Virginia Is For Lovers”), will mark the beginning of a new era of flexibility for Rocket Lab as it aims to serve launch clients around the world. The company worked with NASA at Wallops, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to oversee commercial launches from Wallops, to develop the new board.
So far, Rocket Lab has used its two pads at Launch Complex 1 on the coast of New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula to carry out aerial missions. The US launch platform will allow the company to launch missions for customers who need a US-based launch, such as government or military customers, Beck said.
Rocket Lab has opened Launch Complex 2 in 2019 and originally planned to launch its first mission from there in 2020. But that first flight was delayed by two years due to a stumbling block in NASA’s development of a new autonomous flight termination system, a safety system required to launch the Electron from the Wallops Flight Facility. Rocket Lab uses a version of NASA’s Autonomous Flight Termination System, which the company calls Pegasus for its electronic flights.
David Pearce, director of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, told reporters that the errors discovered in the NASA system software, and subsequent testing by the US space agency Space Force And the FAA were the reasons for the delay. NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed their certification of the system ahead of the attempted launch on Sunday, and signed the final launch papers on Saturday (Dec. 17).
“It was nothing short of a miraculous effort to get us to this point, which I consider a turning point in the launch process, not just at Wallops, but throughout the United States,” Pearce said.
Rocket Lab’s Virginia Is For Launch Lovers mission is the first of three flights for Virginia-based HawkEye 360, which is building a constellation of small radio frequency monitoring satellites. Under the multiple launch agreement HawkEye 360 struck in April, Rocket Lab will have 15 of the small satellites in orbit by 2024.
“These missions will grow HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to provide better accurate maps of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world,” Rocket Lab wrote. Description of the task (Opens in a new tab).
We’re in the process of taking some big first steps for Electron this week: First mission from US soil First mission for @hawkeye360 First mission with Autonomous Flight Termination System at WallopsV Virginia Is For Launch Lovers fly NET NET 15th. Stay tuned for weather updates pic.twitter.com/P7Dlq0X01hDecember 13, 2022
Rocket Lab aims to eventually launch one Electron mission per month from its Wallops platform. The company is also building a new building, The largest reusable rocket is called Neutron which will also launch from the US launch site. It is expected that the first flight of this missile will not exceed 2024.
Beck said that the Rocket Lab launch team has already learned from handling its first mission at Wallops (the rocket components are shipped in a container to the site) and that the basics of setting up a rocket at the new US platform will carry over to the new Neutron. a program. Rocket Lab is also building a neutron missile manufacturing facility in Virginia.
“I think, you know, there are a lot of lessons from that,” Beck said. “The next few launches will be significantly simpler.”
But, he added, for now, Electron needs to make her maiden voyage.
“The missile is ready and on the stand,” Beck said. “The team is ready and it’s time to fly.”
Email Tarek Malik at [email protected] or follow him @employee (Opens in a new tab). Follow us @employee (Opens in a new tab)And the Facebook (Opens in a new tab) And the Instagram (Opens in a new tab).
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”