Bad weather has pushed Rocket Lab’s first-ever launch from U.S. soil back a day, to Tuesday (Jan. 24).
Rocket Lab had been targeting Monday (Jan. 23) for its “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” mission, which will send an Electron rocket aloft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia (hence the name). But Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.
“Weather conditions have deteriorated at Wallops with rain and strong winds at LC-2 [Launch Complex 2], so we’re now targeting Tuesday Jan 24th for our first Electron mission from Virginia,” Rocket Lab said via Twitter (opens in new tab) on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 22).
The launch window on Tuesday runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST (2300 GMT to 0100 GMT on Jan. 24). You can watch the launch here at Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly via the company (opens in new tab).
People on or near the U.S. East Coast might be able to see “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” with their own eyes, weather permitting. “From a distance, Electron will appear like a bright, fast-moving star in the sky,” NASA Wallops officials said via Twitter earlier this month, in a post that included a visibility map (opens in new tab) for the upcoming launch.
The 59-foot-tall (18 meters) Electron has launched more than 30 orbital missions to date. All of them have lifted off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s North Island.
“Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” will end that antipodean monopoly, ushering in a new era for California-based Rocket Lab. The mission will launch to orbit three radio-frequency surveillance satellites for HawkEye 360, a Virginia-based company that provides customers with geospatial analytics data.
Rocket Lab will launch 12 more HawkEye 360 satellites over the course of three additional flights in 2023 and 2024.
“These missions will grow HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better deliver precise mapping of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world,” Rocket Lab wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).
Rocket Lab has recovered the first stage of the two-stage Electron during several previous missions, in one case even snagging the descending booster with a helicopter. Such work advances and informs the company’s quest to make the Electron first stage reusable, something it aims to achieve in the relatively near future.
There will be no recovery effort on “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers,” however; the first stage will ditch into the Atlantic Ocean, giving up its ghost at sea.
This isn’t the first time the elements have interfered with this highly anticipated launch. Rocket Lab had planned to fly “Viriginia Is for Launch Lovers” in December 2022, but bad weather pushed the mission into January.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).