Rocket Lab launches from U.S. soil for the first time

28. 1. 2023 0 By Space Seeker

On Jan. 24, Rocket Lab successfully launched the Electron rocket from the Launch Complex-2 (LC-2) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia starting a new era for Rocket Lab. The company had previously launched 32 missions from its primary launch site in New Zealand – LC-1A and LC-1B. After weather and paperwork-related delays, the mission named “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” lifted off at the opening of a two-hour window at 23:00 UTC.

The Electron rocket, which was not aimed to be recovered on this mission, launched three HackEye satellites into a 550-kilometer circular orbit inclined 40.5 degrees to the equator. The payloads are designed to provide global commercial radio frequency analytic services to government and private customers as part of a constellation that began launching in December 2018.

Credit: Rocket Lab / Brady Kenniston

The LC-2 complex at Wallops started construction in February 2019 and was completed that December before its first launch scheduled for the spring of 2020, but the debut launch had to be delayed due to the certification of the NASA AFTS software. With the new launch site in the United States, Rocket Lab can support launches for different inclinations than the ones available from Mahia in New Zealand possibly opening doors for new customers.  Wallops facility was also selected by Rocket Lab for the upcoming medium-lift Neutron rocket.