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RocketLab’s first North American launch set for Sunday

After delays, company is set for a 6 pm US Eastern launch of a small satellite.



Enlarge / The Electron rocket, covered in while protective material, on its side on its launch pad on Wallops Island. (credit: John Timmer)

On Sunday, RocketLab plans to send its small launch rocket, the Electron, into orbit from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, or MARS. The launch is scheduled for 6 pm US Eastern; we’ve embedded a livestream below.

This will be RocketLab’s first launch from MARS, and the first by any company not currently owned by Northrop Grumman, which has used the site for its Minotaur and Antares rockets. Prior to today, RocketLab has done all its launches from a site in New Zealand, where its Electron vehicles are built. MARS is located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, on the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula, which separates Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

RocketLab CEO Peter Beck told Ars that the site offers access to some additional orbital trajectories that can’t be reached from New Zealand, and allows the company to compete for business with US government agencies that have a requirement for US-based launches. MARS was appealing in part because the lower launch cadence there means that there’s less potential for scheduling conflicts.

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