Bad weather has pushed Rocket Lab's first-ever launch from U.S. soil back a day, to Tuesday (Jan. 24).
Rocket Lab had been targeting Monday (Jan. 23) for its "Virginia Is for Launch Lovers" mission, which will send an Electron rocket aloft from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia (hence the name). But Mother Nature didn't cooperate.
"Weather conditions have deteriorated at Wallops with rain and strong winds at LC-2 [Launch Complex 2], so we're now targeting Tuesday Jan 24th for our first Electron mission from Virginia," Rocket Lab said via Twitter on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 22).
The launch window on Tuesday runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST (2300 GMT to 0100 GMT on Jan. 24). You can watch the launch here at Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly via the company.
People on or near the U.S. East Coast might be able to see "Virginia Is for Launch Lovers" with their own eyes, weather permitting. "From a distance, Electron will appear like a bright, fast-moving star in the sky," NASA Wallops officials said via Twitter earlier this month, in a post that included a visibility map for the upcoming launch.
The 59-foot-tall (18 meters) Electron has launched more than 30 orbital missions to date. All of them have lifted off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand's North Island.
"Virginia Is for Launch Lovers" will end that antipodean monopoly, ushering in a new era for California-based Rocket Lab. The mission will launch to orbit three radio-frequency surveillance satellites for HawkEye 360, a Virginia-based company that provides customers with geospatial analytics data.
Rocket Lab will launch 12 more HawkEye 360 satellites over the course of three additional flights in 2023 and 2024.
"These missions will grow HawkEye 360's constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better deliver precise mapping of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world," Rocket Lab wrote in a mission description.
Rocket Lab has recovered the first stage of the two-stage Electron during several previous missions, in one case even snagging the descending booster with a helicopter. Such work advances and informs the company's quest to make the Electron first stage reusable, something it aims to achieve in the relatively near future.
There will be no recovery effort on "Virginia Is for Launch Lovers," however; the first stage will ditch into the Atlantic Ocean, giving up its ghost at sea.
This isn't the first time the elements have interfered with this highly anticipated launch. Rocket Lab had planned to fly "Viriginia Is for Launch Lovers" in December 2022, but bad weather pushed the mission into January.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.