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Rocket Lab’s Inaugural US Launch – Virginia is for Launch Lovers

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket stands vertical at Launch Complex 2 on Monday December 12th.
Credit: David Diebold

Rocket Lab is gearing up for its inaugural launch from the United States this weekend on Sunday, December 18th. The launch of the Virginia is for Launch Lovers mission will be a milestone for Rocket Lab as it will finally bring into operation its Launch Complex 2 (located at Pad 0A) at Wallops Island’s Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport. 

The payload fairing of Electron bearing the insignia for the “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission.
Credit: David Diebold

Founded in 2006 by Peter Beck, the company has to date conducted 32 Electron launches, all of which have launched from New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. Electron is Rocket Lab’s first orbital rocket, following their Ātea sounding rocket. The first flight of Electron took place in May of 2017 and has exclusively flown from LC-1a and 1b from New Zealand. In 2018 Rocket Lab selected Wallops Flight Facility’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as its home for future stateside Electron launches, and in March of last year announced this launch site will also be the home of their future Neutron rocket.

The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission is set to carry 3 satellites for its customer Hawkeye360, a geospatial analytics company based in Herndon, Virginia. These satellites, collectively known as cluster 6, will be delivered to a 40.5 Degree, 550km orbit. This cluster once deployed, will utilize specialized propulsion systems to fly in formation further increasing Hawkeye360’s global coverage. 

The launch is currently scheduled for Sunday December 18th. The launch window opens at 6pm EST and closing at 8pm. While the forecast shows gusty winds on Sunday, Peter Beck confirmed to media that Electron’s winds tolerance is 15 m/s (35 knots/33mph). In the event of further delays, Rocket Lab has launch one more launch opportunity on Monday, Dec. 19th before their launch window closes for the year. 

Rocket Lab’s patch for the Hawkeye 360 “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission.
Credit: Rocket Lab

Edited by Derek Newsome.

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