Rocket Lab's Second U.S. Launch Successfully Delivers Capella Satellites to Orbit

Electron launch, March 16, 2023.
Electron launch, March 16, 2023.

Update: March 17 at 9:27 a.m. ET: Electron took flight at 6:38 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 16 and successfully delivered two Capella Space satellites to low Earth orbit.

“Congratulations to Capella Space and well done to the Rocket Lab team for another flawless launch from Virginia,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. “This year we’re really picking up the launch pace so while one Electron was on the pad at Launch Complex 2 for Capella Space, the team in New Zealand has been preparing the next rocket at Launch Complex 1 to enable two launches from two continents within days of each other. Dedicated and responsive space access for small sats is here now, made possible by Electron.”

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Update: March 16 at 4:45 p.m. ET: Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket is now scheduled to launch no earlier than 6:38 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Original article follows.

The “Stronger Together” mission is scheduled for liftoff no earlier than 6:00 p.m. ET on Thursday during a two-hour launch window, the company announced on Twitter. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will launch from Launch Complex 2 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. You can watch the action live through the company’s website, or directly through the feed below.

Rocket Lab Debut Launch from LC-2 - ‘Virginia Is For Launch Lovers’

Those of you who live along the eastern coast may even be able to see the Electron rocket soar through the skies IRL, according to NASA’s Wallops facility.

The small-lift two-stage launch vehicle was originally scheduled to launch on Saturday, March 11 but strong winds forced Rocket Lab to push the launch to Wednesday, March 15 and then delay it by another day to avoid high winds once again.

This is Rocket Lab’s second launch from U.S. soil, the first taking place in January with the liftoff of the “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission. Up until then, the California-based company had been relying on its launch facility in New Zealand, from which it launched 32 missions (29 of which were successful). However, its newly acquired pad in Virginia is meant to help it grow its launch business for both commercial and government customers.

Electron’s booster is powered by nine Rutherford engines, which run on a mixture of liquid oxygen and refined kerosene. The 59-foot-tall (18 meters) rocket exerts 34,500 pounds of thrust at liftoff and is capable of delivering 661 pounds (300 kilograms) to low Earth orbit. The rocket has launched on 33 previous occasions, delivering 155 satellites to orbit, according to the company.

For Thursday’s launch, the Electron booster will carry the first of Capella Space’s SAR Earth-imaging Acadia satellites. Rocket Lab secured a multi-launch deal with Capella Space whereby four Electron rockets will deliver its satellites to low Earth orbit, one at a time.

On the opposite side of the planet, Rocket Lab is also gearing up to launch another Electron rocket from the company’s Complex 1 in New Zealand to deploy satellites for Spaceflight Inc. customer BlackSky.

The two launches are expected to take place just days apart from each other, with Rocket Lab juggling two missions on two different continents simultaneously.

More: Rocket Lab Seeks to Answer ‘Are We Alone?’ by Launching First Private Mission to Venus

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