First liftoff of the Electron microlauncher from Virginia
First liftoff of the Electron microlauncher from Virginia
© Rocket Lab

First liftoff of the Electron microlauncher from Virginia

The small launcher from the U.S.-NZ company Rocket Lab flew its 33rd mission on January 24. It was launched for the first time from the Wallops Island base.

Military mission

Expected for several months, the " Virginia is for Launch Lovers " mission kicked off Jan. 24 at 23:00 UTC.

It carried three satellites, Hawk 6A through 6C, from the HawkEye 360 company (founded in 2015 in Virginia), dedicated to Sigint (SIGnal INTelligence) signals intelligence.

This is the first time the Electron microlauncher from U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab was operated from the Wallops Island base in Viriginia, specifically Launch Complex 2 (pad LC-0C), which completed construction in December 2019.

" In thrust we trust! " - In God we trust), posted on Twitter the next day Peter Beck, the founder and head of Rocket Lab. Then added " Thanks for flying on Electron ".


Three launch pads on two hemispheres

Rocket Lab was signing its 33rd launch since its microlauncher entered service on May 25, 2017 (30 successes and three failures), and its 13th straight success since July 29, 2021 (mission " It's A Little Chile Up Here " - It's A Little Chile Up Here).

The operator now has two operational launch sites : pad LC 1 and 2 at the complex installed on the Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and now the east coast of the United States.

After the Redstone rocket, which in the 1960s was used both from the U.S. territory and from Australia (in a Sparta version), and the Scout rocket, launched from U.S. soil and off the coast of Kenya by the Italian Space Agency, Electron becomes the third civilian launch vehicle to be operated from both sides of the hemisphere.

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