Wallops Island, Virginia. November. 9, 2022 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it is scheduled to launch its first Electron mission from Virginia during a launch window opening December 7 EST.
The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will deploy satellites for leading radio frequency geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360. It will be Rocket Lab’s first lift-off from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility – a launch pad developed to support Electron missions from U.S. soil for government and commercial customers. The launch window has been set following recent progress by NASA in certifying its Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU) software, which is required to enable Electron launches from Virginia.
Launch Complex 2 supplements Rocket Lab’s existing site, Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, from which 32 Electron missions have already launched. This extensive launch heritage already makes Electron the most frequently launched small orbital rocket globally, and now with two launch complexes combined, Rocket Lab can support more than 130 launch opportunities every year, delivering unmatched flexibility for rapid, responsive launch for government and commercial satellite operators. The launch pad and production complex for Rocket Lab’s large reusable Neutron launch vehicle will also be located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, streamlining operations across small and large launch.
“We are honored and excited to bring a new launch capability to Virginia’s Eastern Shore,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Electron is well established as the leader in small launch, reliably serving the responsive space needs of the commercial, civil, DoD, and national security markets alike. With our inaugural mission from Launch Complex 2, we are immensely proud to expand on this strong launch heritage by enabling a new capability for the nation from Virginian soil. We look forward to making history this December with our dedicated mission partners HawkEye 360, NASA and Virginia Space.”
"For our fifth cluster of next-generation satellites, we needed optimal orbital flexibility — and Rocket Lab’s new Electron launch pad in Wallops, Virginia provides the perfect domestic capability,” said CEO of HawkEye 360, John Serafini. “Rocket Lab’s inaugural launch facilitates our first mid-latitude satellite cluster, which will strengthen the diversity of our geospatial insights for our government and commercial customers across the globe.”
The “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission will be the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 in a contract that will see Rocket Lab deliver 15 satellites to low Earth orbit between late 2022 and 2024. These missions will grow HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better deliver precise geolocation of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world. Supporting Rocket Lab’s vertical integration strategy, Rocket Lab will also supply HawkEye 360 with separation systems produced by Planetary Systems Corporation, a Maryland-based space hardware company acquired by Rocket Lab in December 2021.
Launch fans eager to watch Electron take to Virginia skies for the first time can visit viewing locations including Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road spanning the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Atlantic beaches also provide good viewing locations. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open for this launch. A live launch webcast will also be available.
Source: Rocket Lab