WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today confirmed that it has completed a last launch rehearsal and that it is ready for takeoff on its first mission from American soil on December 7. The mission will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility – a launchpad developed to support US Electron missions for government and business customers.
Known as the Wet Dress Rehearsal, this pre-launch exercise sees the launch team perform the same activities and procedures they will conduct on launch day to ensure that the Electron rocket, launch pad and support systems are ready for flight. As part of the rehearsal, Electron was rolled out to the launch pad and elevated vertically before being loaded with fuel and liquid oxygen to check refueling procedures. The launch team then performed a full launch countdown, ending before the final stage of firing Electron’s Rutherford engines. Electron was then drained of fuel and returned to Rocket Lab’s Integration and Control Facility (ICF) at Wallops Research Park to await launch during a window that spans December 7-20.
The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission will deploy three satellites for radio-frequency geospatial analysis provider HawkEye 360, with integration of these satellites into Electron taking place in the coming days at Rocket Lab’s ICF. Meanwhile, NASA continues to make progress in certifying its Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) software required for launch. This will be the first time an AFTS has been flown from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, representing a valuable new capability for the nation.
While “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” will be Electron’s first launch from the United States, Rocket Lab has already flown 32 Electron missions from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, delivering 152 satellites into orbit for customers such as NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, DARPA, the US Space Force and a range of commercial constellation operators. Electron is already the most frequently launched small orbital rocket in the world and now, with the pad capacity of Launch Complexes 1 and 2 combined, Rocket Lab offers more than 130 Electron launch opportunities each year.
The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission will be the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 under a contract that will see Rocket Lab deliver 15 satellites to low Earth orbit between late 2022 and 2024. These missions will develop the HawkEye Radio Constellation 360 frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better provide accurate geolocation of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world.
“This mission is an important moment for Rocket Lab and a critical milestone in Virginia’s long legacy of spaceflight,” said Rocket Lab CEO and Founder Peter Beck. “With the wetsuit rehearsal now complete, we are excited to move on to launch operations for this historic mission.”
“We are honored to support the launch of this historic mission,” said Ted Mercer, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. “In addition to being Rocket Lab’s first and only U.S. launch site, we will also be building rockets and processing their payload right here in Accomack County – something that has never been done in Virginia. 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 well-paying jobs, launch viewing tourism, and build new facilities on the East Coast. .
Where to watch the launch:
Launch fans eager to see Electron take to the skies of Virginia for the first time can visit viewing locations such as Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road covering the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The Atlantic beaches of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware also offer good vantage points. NASA’s Wallops Visitor Center will be open for this launch. A live launch webcast will also be available at www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream starting at approximately T-40 minutes.
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+ ABOUT Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We provide reliable launch services, satellite manufacturing, spacecraft components and in-orbit management solutions that make getting into space faster, easier and more affordable. Based in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the small Electron 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 launcher has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket each year and has delivered 152 satellites into orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling national security, scientific research and 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 in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA, which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www. rocketlabusa.com.