Space Commerce

Rocket Lab Sets New Date for First Electron Launch From U.S. Soil

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Rocket Lab
January 11, 2023
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Rocket Lab Sets New Date for First Electron Launch From U.S. Soil
Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab”), a leading launch and space systems company, has today announced the launch window for its first Electron mission from U.S. soil is scheduled to open on January 23, 2023 with back-up dates extending through early February. The daily launch opportunity runs from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm EST (23:00 – 1:00 UTC).

The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission will 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 was originally scheduled to launch in December 2022 but was adjusted to January due to unfavorable weather conditions after NASA Wallops and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required additional time to complete essential regulatory documentation for launch compressed the available launch window in December. With the necessary licenses and approvals now secured, Rocket Lab is moving into launch operations and is currently targeting the first day of the window for launch, pending weather suitability.

The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission will deploy three satellites for radio frequency geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360. The mission is the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 in a contract that will see Rocket Lab deliver 15 satellites to low Earth orbit by the end of 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.

“We’re incredibly excited about the capability we’re bringing to Virginia by delivering responsive launch for our customers from U.S. soil, and we’re also proud of the opportunities it creates for the local community by creating highly-skilled jobs and bringing high-tech manufacturing to the Eastern Shore,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Electron has made history by becoming the most launched small orbital rocket globally. With the support of our partners at NASA and Virginia Space, we look forward to building on this strong heritage of mission success with the first of many missions from Wallops.”

Virginia Space CEO and Executive Director Ted Mercer said: “Virginia Space is ready to support the launch of this historic mission, the first of many. Our partnership with Rocket Lab and NASA is bringing exciting changes to the Eastern Shore of Virginia as we begin to launch Rocket Lab missions from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. This partnership creates long-term positive economic impact across the region and cements the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as a national asset for assured access to 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.”

While “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” will be Electron’s first launch from the U.S., Rocket Lab has already conducted 32 Electron missions from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, delivering 152 satellites to orbit for customers including NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, DARPA, the U.S. Space Force and a range of commercial constellation operators.

A live launch webcast will be available from around T-40 minutes on launch day at www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream

  • ABOUT Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 152 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.

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SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.