Rocket Lab to launch 2nd Electron booster from US soil today after weather delays
Rocket Lab has now delayed the planned launch of its second mission from the U.S. due to unfavorable wind conditions twice, but you should be able to watch the launch live today (March 16).
A Rocket Lab Electron booster was scheduled to lift off on a mission the company calls “Stronger Together” from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Saturday (March 11), but unacceptable winds over the launch site prompted a delay to Wednesday (March 15), and then again to Thursday (March 16). The mission is now set to launch on Thursday during a two-hour window that opens at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT).
“To avoid high winds at the pad, we’re now targeting no earlier than Thurs March 16th for our next launch attempt from LC-2 for @capellaspace,” Rocket Lab said via Twitter on Tuesday (opens in new tab) (March 14).
You’ll be able to watch the mission here at Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly via the company (opens in new tab), starting shortly before liftoff.
If you live along the U.S. East Coast, you might be able to see the launch first-hand. The Electron’s flight could be visible to observers as far south as Georgia, as far north as Maine and as far west as Ohio, weather permitting, according to NASA Wallops officials (opens in new tab).
Related: Rocket Lab launches 1st Electron booster from US soil in twilight liftoff
To avoid high winds at the pad, we’re now targeting no earlier than Thurs March 16th for our next launch attempt from LC-2 for @capellaspace. Stronger Together:Mar 16, EDT | 6pmMar 16, UTC | 10pmMar 16, PT | 3pmMar 17, NZDT | 11am pic.twitter.com/eRVs1ERZxjMarch 15, 2023
The 59-foot-tall (18 meters) Electron is carrying two synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites for San Francisco-based company Capella Space on the “Stronger Together” mission.
If all goes according to plan, the two spacecraft will be deployed into a circular orbit 370 miles (600 kilometers) above Earth about 57.5 minutes after liftoff, according to the mission press kit (opens in new tab).
The satellites will join Capella Space’s SAR constellation, which provides customers with detailed imagery of Earth both day and night, in all weather conditions.
These spacecraft allow “Capella Space to deliver the highest quality, highest resolution SAR imagery commercially available with the fastest order-to-delivery time, empowering organizations across the public and private sector to make informed, accurate decisions,” Rocket Lab representatives wrote in the press kit.
Rocket Lab has launched 33 orbital missions with the two-stage Electron to date, all but one of them from its Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The lone outlier, a flight named “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers,” lifted off from Wallops on Jan. 24 of this year.
But “Virginia Is for Launch Lovers” won’t be an outlier for long: The Wallops site, Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2 (LC-2), will host liftoffs on a regular basis going forward.
LC-2 “is designed to serve the responsive space needs of commercial, civil, defense, and national security customers, supporting up to 12 missions per year,” Rocket Lab wrote in a statement (opens in new tab).
Rocket Lab has been working to make the expendable Electron’s first stage reusable; the company has recovered boosters on several previous missions, even plucking a falling rocket out of the sky with a helicopter on one occasion. But there will be no such recovery attempt on “Stronger Together,” according to the mission press kit.
Editor’s note: This story, originally posted at 6 a.m. ET on March 11, was updated on March 13 to reflect a new launch date of March 15 at 6 p.m. ET, then updated again on March 14 with the new launch date of March 16.
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).