Rocket Lab USA Inc. will launch a group of satellites from its Virginia space launch location this month in what would be the first-ever U.S. launch for the Long Beach-based rocket manufacturer.
The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will deploy three satellites for HawkEye 360, which is based in Herndon, Virginia, according to a release from Rocket Lab.
The launch from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was supposed to take place last month but was delayed due to certification by the space agency of its autonomous flight termination unit software, which is required by Rocket Lab to launch its Electron rocket from Virginia.
“Rocket Lab’s use of the NASA software will enable a high degree of confidence moving forward toward launch,” David L. Pierce, Wallops Flight Facility director, said in a statement.
The delay was also due to weather condition and the time needed by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration to complete regulatory documentation for the launch.
The mission is the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 in a contract that will see Rocket Lab deliver 15 satellites to low-Earth orbit between this year and the end of next year, the company’s release said.
“These missions will grow HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better deliver precise geolocation of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world,” the Rocket Lab release added.
John Serafini, chief executive of HawkEye 360, said that the company was proud to be based in Virginia, using Virginia-developed technology and launching out of the Virginia spaceport.
“We selected Rocket Lab because of the flexibility it enables for us to place the satellites into an orbit tailored to benefit our customers,” Serafini said in a statement. “Deploying our satellites on Rocket Lab’s inaugural launch is a giant leap in Virginia’s flourishing space economy.”
Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive Peter Beck added in a statement, “Electron has long been recognized as the leading small launch vehicle and we look forward to continuing to provide a reliable path to orbit, now from two hemispheres.”
Rocket Lab has been launching craft from New Zealand for the past several years, for a total of 32 launches so far.
The two launch complexes combined can support more than 130 Electron launch opportunities every year.
The launch pad and production complex for Rocket Lab’s reusable Neutron launch vehicle will also be located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, streamlining operations across small and large launch. Construction on the Neutron Production Complex is underway now, the press kit added.