“Virginia is for launch lovers”, that’s how the new Rocket Lab’s mission has been called. In fact, this will be the inaugural Rocket Lab mission at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The Electron rocket will launch and deploy into orbit 6 new HawkEye 360’s next-generation satellites that will improve their capabilities of mapping radio frequency emissions over mid-latitude regions of the globe. This will be the first of three launches planned by HawkEye and Rocket Lab.
The liftoff was originally scheduled for December 19, 2022, but due to continued strong upper-level winds, the launch team couldn’t perform a liftoff within the December window. Now the Electron launch has been delayed to January 2023, the rocket and facility team are ready for a new opportunity next year.
Continued strong upper-level winds tomorrow have ruled out the final day of the launch window for our 1st mission from @NASA_Wallops. A new window is now scheduled to open in Jan for the Virginia is for Launch Lovers mission. Team and rocket are ready, so stay tuned for updates! pic.twitter.com/CrbuamwQ7u— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) December 19, 2022
A new launch pad for Rocket Lab
As mentioned before, this mission is very important for Rocket Lab since it will be the first liftoff from Launch Complex 2 inside Wallops facility.
Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) is a rocket launch site situated on Wallops Island in Virginia, it was built in 1945 for NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and since then there have been over 16.000 launches from the facility. Wallops is in a geographic location ideal for supporting satellite tracking and commanding, military operations, scientific investigations, as well as commercial aerospace.
As a matter of fact, in 1998, the Virginia Commercial Space Authority built the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in the southern part of NASA’s WFF, then in 2019 Rocket Lab selected MARS as its second launch site (Launch Complex 2).
HawkEye 360 satellites
Founded in 2015, HawkEye 360 is an American company that provides radio frequency geospatial analytics. Thanks to their satellites, HawkEye 360 is able to accurately identify and locate sources of radio frequency from space. These data are increasingly valuable for governments to save lives and control illegal activities.
HawkEye 360 operates a commercial satellite constellation formed by clusters of three satellites. “Virginia is for launch lovers” mission is set to put into orbit Cluster 6 next-generation satellites thanks to the Electron rocket, now the second most frequently launched US rocket.