THE LAUNCH PAD NEWS

America

Second Rocket arrives at RocketLabs LC-2 Facility

RocketLab Speeds up LC-2 after Series of Delays

RocketLab is ramping up their new US launch site before the first US launch is even in the books. As one of the leading launch service providers, with 32 launches between the LC-1A and LC-1B pads at their New Zealand launch site, RocketLab is now preparing a second Electron for launch from the US, promising a busy 2023 Electron schedule.

SUMMARY
  • More details coming soon...
TOPICS
ASK A QUESTION
JOURNALISTS
Ashe S.

Ashe S.

Thu Dec 29 2022Written by Ashe S.

LC-2: RocketLabs American Launch Hub

RocketLab is ramping up their new US launch site before the first US launch is even in the books. As one of the leading launch service providers, with 32 launches between the LC-1A and LC-1B pads at their New Zealand launch site, RocketLab is now preparing a second Electron for launch from the US, promising a busy 2023 Electron schedule.

RocketLab began constructing its Virginia launch site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in early 2019, and it is ready for its first launch. RocketLab planned to launch their first Electron from the US in early December, carrying two Hawkeye 360 remote sensing satellites. After many technical and weather related delays, the launch team was forced to delay the inaugural launch until January. As of now, the launch teams are waiting out the bad weather and cold temperatures to launch the Hawkeye mission.

RocketLab is one of the leading launch service providers, operating out of New Zealand for its launch services. The New Zealand launch site has carried out all 32 launches between the LC-1A and LC-1B launch pads.. Despite having the 2 launch pads in New Zealand, RocketLab began constructing its Virginia launch site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in early 2019, and is ready for its first launch. Originally planned for early December, RocketLab planned to launch its Electron rocket carrying two Hawkeye 360 remote sensing satellites. After many technical and weather related delays, the launch team was forced to delay the inaugural launch until January. As of now, the launch teams are waiting out the bad weather and cold temperatures to launch the Hawkeye mission.

TROPICS Contract: From Astra to RocketLab

One of the biggest contract awards for RocketLab recently has been the TROPICS weather satellites, a constellation of four small satellites designed for early warning, tracking, and in-depth research of hurricanes. 

The TROPICS launch award was originally granted to Astra, a launch service provider similar to RocketLab. Astra has had a troubled history with its rockets, only having 2 successful launches in its last 7 attempts. Astra’s Rocket 3.3 was awarded the launch contract for the TROPICS missions, which launched out of Launch Complex 46 on June 12th, 2022.

After a failure in the second stage, the mission was terminated as the rocket and two TROPICS satellites tumbled back to earth. Following the failure of the launch, NASA terminated the launch contract with Astra and began to search for other service providers who would be able to quickly and reliably launch the remaining 4 satellites before the start of the 2023 Hurricane season. RocketLab won the contract, and will be launching the remaining satellites from the Virginia launch site in early 2023.


To launch the four remaining TROPICS satellites, RocketLab will be launching two satellites at a time for two missions out of their LC-2 facility. They are hoping to launch both missions before March to prepare the satellites for the 2023 Hurricane season. To supply this contract, RocketLab has begun shipping more rockets to its LC-2 facility. RocketLab announced that its second rocket has arrived at the launch preparation facility, which will likely be the rocket to carry the first batch of TROPICS satellites to orbit.