LONG BEACH, California: Long Beach, California-based Rocket Lab has launched its first mission from the United States, as part of its efforts to expand its business amidst a surge in private rocket activity at American space ports.
At 6 p.m. EST, the company's Electron rocket lifted off from its new launch pad at the NASA-operated Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.
The launch was Rocket Lab's first outside its flagship launch site on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, where its 32 previous Electron missions were launched from.
Rocket Lab secured an agreement to use the Launch Complex 2 site in Virginia in 2018.
The launch this week took place after being delayed several times, first over a lengthy certification review of Electron's automated flight termination system, and then due to bad weather in Virginia.
The routine mission sent three satellites toward orbit for radio-frequency analytics firm Hawkeye 360.
US regulators are adapting to the rising popularity of private rocket launches, which is expected to further grow as several US launch startups are planning their first rocket launches into space in 2023.