Update: Due to strong upper-level winds, Rocket Lab scrubbed tonight’s rocket launch 12 minutes before its scheduled 8pm lift-off. They will try again tomorrow. The rest of this article remains unchanged.
After being delayed due to weather conditions and the need to complete paperwork with the FAA, it appears a rocket is now finally ready to launch from a Virginia spaceport Sunday evening. The launch, taking place at the NASA Wallops Spaceport, will send a Rocket Lab rocket to space, and people from as far as New York and New Jersey and North and South Carolina should be able to see it lifting up high in the sky.
Peter Beck, the founder of Rocket Lab, announced on Twitter that “The final licensing paperwork for launch is complete and we are 100% go for launch tomorrow. Huge thanks to NASA Wallops and the FAA. Time to fly, this time from the northern hemisphere.”
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 a mission name of “Virginia is for Launch Lovers.” This mission 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 18 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.
While this will be Rocket Lab’s first launch at NASA Wallops and the first in the Northern Hemisphere, they are no stranger to launching rockets. Rocket Lab has successfully launched 32 Electron rockets from their New Zealand launch facility, known as Launch Complex 1 near Ahuriri Point at the southern tip of Māhia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.