After delivering 152 satellites to orbit across 32 missions launched from New Zealand, Rocket Lab has successfully completed its first orbital launch from U.S. soil, putting several more satellites in orbit around the globe.
Aptly named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” Tuesday’s mission blasted off from the Long Beach-based firm’s new complex at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia.
The company’s Electron rocket took off from the spaceport at 6 p.m. EST carrying three small satellites for American geospatial analytics company HawkEye 360, which is headquartered in Virginia. All satellites were successfully delivered to a 550-kilometer low-Earth orbit by 7:34 EST, the company announced via Twitter.
“After our busiest launch year yet in 2022 with nine successful missions, what better way to kick off the new year than by launching Virginia-built spacecraft from a Virginia launch site, enabled by our rapidly growing Virginia-based team,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. “This mission has been a real team effort.”
Rocket Lab’s 33rd mission was originally slated to take off on Dec. 18, but high winds forced the team to scrub the launch. Weather did not allow for the launch the following day, which pushed the mission into the new year.
This was the first of three missions Rocket Lab will fly for HawkEye. The multi-launch contract to deliver 15 satellites to orbit through next year will allow for HawkEye’s constellation of radio-frequency-monitoring satellites to provide better geolocation of radio emissions worldwide.
At 7:21 p.m. EST Tuesday, HawkEye announced via Twitter that the company had established initial communications with all three satellites.
“Our sixth trio of satellites and our first mid-latitude satellite cluster will broaden the scope of our geospatial insights for our partners around the world,” HawkEye CEO John Serafini said in a statement. “This also marks our first launch in our home state of Virginia, making (this) success even more meaningful.”