The rocket lab’s debut mission from US soil has been pushed back to next year after high winds forced the team to abort its latest launch attempt earlier this week.
The mission had already been delayed several times due to administrative problems with the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as bad weather. The latest and final delay was due to “high upper-level winds” at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Station at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility about 100 miles southeast of Washington.
“Continuing strong upper-level winds tomorrow have ruled NASA_Wallops out of the final day of our Mission 1 launch window,” Rocket Lab. said tweeted on Monday, adding that a new window “is now scheduled to open in January.”
When it finally takes off, Rocket Lab’s workhorse Electron rocket will deploy six satellites for the HawkEye 360 radio-frequency geospatial analytics provider.
The flight will also see the first software test of NASA’s Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU), an automated system designed to ensure public safety during launch operations that will be available to all US launch providers.
Rocket Lab’s first US mission, named Virginia is for startup lovershas tracked more than 30 satellite launch flights from Rocket Lab’s main launch site in New Zealand since 2018.
The opening of its first U.S. launch facility marks a major expansion of Rocket Lab’s business as the company seeks new government and commercial customers while moving toward bigger flights.
Rocket Lab will also use the Virginia facility for the first launch of its much more powerful, next-generation Neutron rocket, possibly in 2024. Like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the Neutron will have a reusable first stage that can land back on the ground. vertical just after the second stage was launched into orbit.
Such a system would help Rocket Lab reduce costs and offer competitive pricing to customers looking to use satellite deployment services. The new rocket can also carry out interplanetary missions and even manned space flights.