By Carol Vaughn
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket arrived at Wallops Island Wednesday, Oct. 12, in preparation for the company’s first launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, scheduled for December.
The launch also will be the company’s first from the United States. Rocket Lab’s original launch complex is in New Zealand.
The mission will deploy satellites for radio frequency geospatial analysis provider HawkEye 360.
“We are looking forward to seeing Electron take to Virginia skies for the first time very soon,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and chief executive officer.
“Rocket Lab has been providing reliable and responsive access to orbit for more than four and a half years with Electron and we’re excited to build on that strong heritage by unlocking a new path to orbit from right here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. We are delighted to be working with the dedicated teams at NASA, Virginia Space, Accomack County, and HawkEye 360 to launch this historic mission and begin a new era of space access,” Beck said.
The December mission is the first of three scheduled for HawkEye 360, in a contract under which Rocket Lab will deliver 15 satellites to low-earth orbit between late 2022 and 2024.
Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2, at Wallops, was developed to support missions from U. S. soil for government and commercial customers, according to a press release.
The company scheduled the mission for December, “encouraged by NASA’s recent progress in certifying its Autonomous Flight Termination Unit software, which is required to enable Electron launches from Virginia,” according to the release.
Preparations for the launch include a standard launch dress rehearsal and payload integration, which will be done at Rocket Lab’s integration and control facility near the launch site.
Rocket Lab has launched 31 Electron missions from its New Zealand site. Combined with the Wallops launch site, more than 130 launches a year can be supported, according to the company,