First electron rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Island, VA Facility
Rocket Lab debut launch from NASA’s Wallops Island facility, Virginia. This is the moment when the first electron rocket launch from the United States, HawkEye 360. Courtesy of Rocket Lab’s YouTube stream.
The first U.S. electron rocket launch occurred on Jan. 24 at approximately 6:00 p.m. ET from NASA’s Wallops Island, Virginia facility. The launch was originally scheduled for Monday evening but was canceled due to the weather.
NASA prepares to launch the Virginia rocket
People along the east coast are in for a show Monday night as a rocket launch at Wallops Island, Virginia will be visible from much of the coast. FOX 5’s David Kaplan explains how to watch the launch.
The first electron launch from the United States on Tuesday was made possible by NASA’s work developing NASA’s Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU). NASA believes NAFTU is a critical piece of flight safety technology required for this mission.
Tuesday’s launch marked the first-ever flight to use the NAFTU flight safety system.
“By bringing NAFTU to the finish line, NASA has delivered an autonomous flight termination system like no other in operation today to fill a critical gap in the modernization of our nation’s launch areas,” said David L. Pierce, director of the Wallops Flight Facility, in a statement. “We are proud to have made this and future US Rocket Lab Electron launches possible with our breakthrough flight safety technology.”
Electron is a rocket type from the New Zealand Rocket Lab. The 59-foot-tall Elektron rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.
The mission, dubbed “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will use high-frequency surveillance satellites for HawkEye 360, NASA said.
You can watch the full introductory video on RocketLab’s website or RocketLab’s YouTube channel.