Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will carry HawkEye 360 satellites when it embarks on its much anticipated first launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, USA, late this year. It has to date only launched from OneNui Station, on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand.
As part of the new contract, signed earlier this week on 19 April, Rocket Lab will launch three Electron missions for HawkEye 360 in total, delivering 15 satellites to low Earth orbit, from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 on Wallops Island. The missions, which will see HawkEye 360 extend its constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, are scheduled for between “late 2022 and 2024”. The first of these launches will mark three years since the company officially opened its Virginia launch pad.
One of the main reasons for the long delay were problems in gaining NASA certification of an autonomous flight termination system for Electron called the NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU). The termination system is a requirement for Electron launches from Wallops.