The first launch of an Electron rocket from the United States took place from NASA facilities on Wallops Island, Va., around 6 p.m. ET on January 24. The launch was originally scheduled for Monday evening but was canceled due to weather conditions.
Electron’s first launch from the United States on Tuesday was made possible by NASA’s work in developing the NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU). NASA believes that NAFTU is an essential part of the flight safety technology required for this mission.
Tuesday’s launch was the first-ever flight using the NAFTU flight safety system.
“By getting NAFTU across the finish line, NASA has provided an autonomous flight termination system unlike any other in service today, filling a critical gap in the modernization of our nation’s launch ranges,” said said David L. Pierce, director of Wallops Flight Facility in a statement. “We are proud to have made this and future US Rocket Lab Electron launches possible with our groundbreaking flight safety technology.”
Electron is a type of rocket made by New Zealand-based Rocket Lab. The 59-foot-tall Electron rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.
The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will deploy radio frequency monitoring satellites for HawkEye 360, NASA said.
You can watch the full launch video via the RocketLab website or the RocketLab YouTube channel.