If all goes according to plan, Rocket Lab’s first mission from American soil will be accomplished less than two weeks from now.
The launch window for Rocket Lab’s “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” mission will open Jan. 23, the company announced Wednesday (Jan. 11). The flight will take off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia (hence the name).
The launch window runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST on January 23rd (2300 GMT to 0100 GMT on January 24th) and daily backup dates, which run through early February. When the time comes, you can watch liftoff here on Space.com.
Connected: Rocket Lab’s First US Launch Can Be Seen Along the East Coast
Rocket Lab’s 59-foot-tall (18 m) Electron launcher has flown more than 30 orbital missions to date, all from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
“Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” will debut at Launch Complex 2 as the first flight from the facility. The mission was targeted to fly last month, but adverse weather pushed liftoff to January.
Upon the upcoming launch, the expandable Electron will carry three radio-frequency surveillance satellites for the Virginia-based company Hawkeye 360. The three are the first of 15 Hawkeye 360 satellites that Rocket Lab will launch over the course of three missions in 2023 and 2024.
“These missions will develop Hawkeye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, helping the company conduct accurate mapping of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world,” Rocket Lab wrote in a mission description. (opens in new tab),
Rocket Lab is working to make the Electron’s first stage reusable. The company has retrieved and analyzed the boosters on several previous missions, on one occasion successfully pulling a returning Electron out of the sky by helicopter. (This is Rocket Lab’s desired recovery strategy, given that the Electron is too small to have enough fuel left after launch for a powered Earth return.)
However, company representatives said there would be no recovery effort on “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers”.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaelwall (opens in new tab), Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab),