Rocket Lab delays first US launch due to unacceptably high winds
Rocket Lab’s debut launch from US soil will have to wait at least another day after strong winds thwarted a launch attempt on Sunday evening (December 18).
The Long Beach, Calif.-based company was hoping to launch its first U.S. flight of an electron booster from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia Sunday night, but unacceptable upper-level wind speeds forced a delay. The next launch opportunity is on Monday (December 19) at 6pm EST (2300 GMT). You can watch the launch live online about 40 minutes before launch.
“These upper level winds defeated us today and we will be withdrawing from today’s launch attempt,” Rocket Lab spokeswoman Murielle Baker said during live commentary on the launch.
Related: Rocket Lab’s first US launch could be visible along the East Coast on December 18th
The upcoming Electron rocket mission, dubbed Virginia Is For Launch Lovers, is carrying three radio frequency surveillance satellites for Virginia-based HawkEye 360, which is developing a constellation of satellites to detect and monitor radio frequencies worldwide. The satellites on this mission, known as Cluster 6, are the first of 15 HawkEye 360 satellites that Rocket Lab will launch in three missions through 2024.
“These missions will expand HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency surveillance satellites and enable the company to provide more precise mapping of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world,” Rocket Lab wrote in a mission statement (opens in new tab).
Rocket Lab’s current launch window for Virginia Is For Launch Lovers runs through December 20, after which the company must work with the Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, who are overseeing commercial launches from the site for additional opportunities.
The Company’s Wallops platform is known as Launch Complex 2 and marks the premier launch site in the Northern Hemisphere. Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 is home to two pads on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
By locating its third launch pad in the United States, Rocket Lab aims to increase its flexibility and capabilities for US government and military customers. The company hopes to eventually launch one mission each month from the Virginia launch site. Rocket Lab is also developing a new, larger rocket called the Neutron for launches from wallops.
Rocket Lab originally hoped to launch its first flight of Wallops in 2020. Its US flights were delayed by two years to await development of new autonomous flight termination software by NASA, which required additional time to correct bugs and complete tests. NASA safety software is required for Wallops’ electron flights, and Rocket Lab adapts it for launches into its own Pegasus system.
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https://www.space.com/rocket-lab-1st-electron-launch-delayed-by-winds Rocket Lab delays first US launch due to unacceptably high winds