Space company Rocket Lab is preparing to launch their very first rocket from the NASA Wallops Spaceport in Virginia. The launch, originally set for December 9, has been pushed to no earlier than Tuesday, December 13 due to weather concerns, specifically forecast strong upper-level winds. This rocket launch could be visible across a large part of the Mid Atlantic if weather were to cooperate elsewhere at launch time.
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 will occur during a launch window that stretches from 6pm-8pm on launch days, which now start on December 13 and last through at least December 20.
With this mission, NASA is helping foster a growing low-Earth space economy and continues Wallops’ 35-year history of support to the commercial launch industry.
Rocket Lab is an American aerospace manufacturer and launch service provider. Operating smaller, lightweight Electron orbital rockets, Rocket Lab is dedicated to providing access into space for small satellites and their manufacturers. Electron is a 2-stage launch vehicle which uses liquid fuel engines on both stages. Generally, the Electron craft is capable of delivering payloads of 150 kg to a 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit.
In the future, Rocket Lab hopes to launch their somewhat larger Neutron rocket from NASA Wallops too. In March of this year, Rocket Lab announced that Neutron will be built at a facility adjacent to Launch Complex 2 at the Virginia coast spaceport. When built, the 130 foot tall Neutron is expected to be capable of launching a 17,600 pound payload into low Earth orbit. Rocket Lab previously said they hope the first stage of the Neutron rocket will be reusable, with rockets returning to Earth on a floating platform located down-range off the Mid Atlantic coast.