WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (WAVY) – NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility will support the launch of Rocket Lab USA’s first Electron rocket from Virginia at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and, weather-permitting, will be available throughout much of the U.S. East Coast.
The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will deploy radio frequency monitoring satellites for HawkEye 360. The 59-foot-tall Electron rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.
The launch window for the mission is 6 to 8 p.m. The backup launch days are Dec. 10 to Dec. 20.
Rocket Lab USA completed a final launch rehearsal Nov. 21. It ensures the Electron rocket, launch pad and supporting systems are ready for flight.
During the rehearsal, Electron was brought out to the launch pad and raised vertically before it was loaded with fuel and liquid oxygen to verify fueling procedures, and then the launch team held a full launch countdown, wrapping it up before the final step of engine ignition of Electron’s Rutheford engines.
This launch is Electron’s first from the U.S. Rocket Lab has, to date, conducted 32 Electron missions from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and has delivered 152 satellites to orbit for customers including NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. Space Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other commercial constellation operators.
Viewing locations on Chincoteague Island include Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road spanning the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. People can also view the launch from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Atlantic beaches. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will also be open for this launch.
A live launch webcast will be available at www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream beginning about 40 minutes before launch.
The “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission is to be the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 as part of a contract for Rocket Lab to deliver 15 satellites to low Earth orbit between late 2022 and 2024.
“This mission is a significant moment for Rocket Lab and a pivotal milestone for Virginia’s long legacy in spaceflight,” said Rocket Lab CEO and founder, Peter Beck in a statement. “With wet dress rehearsal now complete, we’re excited to move into launch operations for this historic mission.”
Virginia space CEO and Executive Director Ted Mercer said it was honored to support the launch.
“In addition to being Rocket Lab’s first and only U.S. launch location, we will also be building rockets and processing their payload right here in Accomack County – something that has never been done in Virginia,” Mercer said. “Our partnership with Rocket Lab is a unique opportunity for the Commonwealth of Virginia to create long-term economic development opportunities in the form of high-paying jobs, launch viewing tourism, and construction of new facilities on the Eastern Shore.”