|News Update|| |
Rocket Lab successfully launches first electron mission from U.S. Soil
Rocket Lab USA, Inc. a leading launch and space systems company, has successfully launched its 33rd Electron rocket and first mission from Virginia. The “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission lifted off at 18:00 EST on January 24th from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The mission deployed three satellites to a 550km orbit for leading radio frequency geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360. Rocket Lab has now successfully deployed a total of 155 satellites to orbit from the Company’s three launch pads across the U.S. and New Zealand.
The successful launch from LC-2 marks the beginning of a new era of responsive launch capability for small satellites from U.S. soil. Built with support from Virginia Space, the Commonwealth of Virginia and NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 is designed to serve the responsive space needs of commercial, civil, defense, and national security customers, supporting up to 12 missions per year. Combined with Rocket Lab’s private Launch Complex 1 site in New Zealand, the Company’s launch sites can support more than 130 launch opportunities every year, delivering flexibility and rapid launch capability for customers.
The launch of Electron from the NASA-controlled Wallops Flight Facility also marked the introduction of the agency’s autonomous flight termination capability, known as NAFTU (NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit).
While Rocket Lab has successfully flown its own autonomous system on Electron missions since 2019, NASA developed NAFTU in conjunction with this launch to provide a common system for flight termination for a wide array of launch vehicles at any launch range. Autonomous flight termination capability now being in operation at Wallops can provide faster and cheaper access to space for small satellites by enabling wider launch windows, smaller launch safety corridors, and reduced reliance on ground-based systems.
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