The first launch of an Electron rocket out of the USA took place out of NASA’s Wallops Island, Virginia facility at about 6 p.m. ET on January 24th. The launch was originally scheduled for Monday night but was canceled due to weather.
The first Electron launch from the United States Tuesday was enabled by NASA’s work in developing the NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU). NASA believes that NAFTU is a critical piece of flight safety technology required for this mission.
The launch Tuesday was the first-ever flight utilizing the NAFTU flight safety system.
“In taking NAFTU across the finish line, NASA has delivered an autonomous flight termination system like no other in operation today filling a critical gap in modernizing our nation’s launch ranges,” said David L. Pierce, Wallops Flight Facility director in a statement. “We’re proud to have made this and future U.S. Rocket Lab Electron launches possible with our game-changing flight safety technology.”
Electron is a rocket type 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.