People living all along the east coast of the US Tuesday had the opportunity to enjoy a weekday evening rocket launch while the skies were clear. And space startup Rocket Lab is hoping it was just the first of many such events.
The company has conducted more than 30 launches of its Electron rocket from its complex in New Zealand. On Tuesday, it lifted off successfully for the first time from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The electron exploded just after 6:00 p.m. ET. You can rewatch the entire mission below.
Nicknamed Virginia Is for Launch Lovers, the mission sent satellites into orbit for Hawkeye 360, a company dedicated to detecting and geolocating radio signals from space.
Most US space launches start in Florida. But Wallops is centrally located on the Atlantic Seaboard, potentially making the launch visible across a vast region stretching from South Carolina to Maine and encompassing tens of millions of people. Prepared and happy photographers from across the region posted Electron’s flight through the atmosphere on social media.
Rocket Lab has become the second most productive commercial launch provider in recent years, behind only SpaceX. The company says its second launch pad in Virginia will allow it to support over 130 missions a year. Electron is a smaller rocket than SpaceX’s Falcon 9, designed to launch smaller satellites into orbit.
Rocket Lab is developing a larger rocket called the Neutron, and is also trying to perfect a means of reusing their booster by trapping them with a leash and helicopter.