The mission will deploy satellites for radio frequency (RF) geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360. The launch pad was developed to support Electron missions from U.S. soil for government and commercial customers. Encouraged by NASA’s recent progress in certifying its Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU) software, which is required to enable Electron launches from Virginia, Rocket Lab has scheduled the mission from Launch Complex 2 to occur in December of 2022.
Rocket Lab will now start final launch preparations that includes a standard launch dress rehearsal and payload integration at th company’s dedicated Integration and Control Facility near the launch site.
Launch Complex 2 (pictured below) supplements Rocket Lab’s existing site, Launch Complex 1, in New Zealand, from which 31 Electron missions have already launched. The two launch complexes combined can support more than 130 launch opportunities every year, delivering flexibility for rapid, responsive launch for government and commercial satellite operators. The launch pad and production complex for Rocket Lab’s large reusable Neutron launch vehicle will also be located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, streamlining operations across small and large launch opportunities.
The mission will be the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 in a contract that will seethe firm deliver 15 satellites to LEO between late 2022 and 2024. These missions will grow the number of HawkEye 360’s constellation of RF monitoring satellites, enabling the firm to better deliver precise mapping of RF emissions anywhere in the world. Supporting Rocket Lab’s vertical integration strategy, Rocket Lab will also supply HawkEye 360 with separation systems produced by Planetary Systems Corporation, a Maryland-based space hardware company acquired by Rocket Lab in December 2021.
“We are looking forward to seeing Electron take to Virginia skies for the first time very soon,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “Rocket Lab has been providing reliable and responsive access to orbit for more than four and a half years with Electron and we’re excited to build on that strong heritage by unlocking a new path to orbit from right here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. We are delighted to be working with the dedicated teams at NASA, Virginia Space, Accomack County and HawkEye 360 to launch this historic mission and begin a new era of space access.”