When is the next Rocket Lab launch?

The leader in smallsat launches, Rocket Lab, is hoping to have its biggest year yet. Last year Rocket Lab launched nine rockets out of New Zealand, and this year we expect them to finally get into double digits. To start off the year, Rocket Lab is attempting its next Electron launch from LC-2 in Virginia with three HawkEye 360 satellites, it’s first from US soil. [Launched]

The next Rocket Lab launch is ‘Virginia is for Launch Lovers’

Carrying three HawkEye satellites, Rocket Lab’s first US-based Electron launch is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24, between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. EST. Construction began on the new launch pad in 2019 but ran into delays during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many personnel from New Zealand not being able to enter the US. Delays with NASA certifying Electron’s flight termination system also held back their first launch from US soil. The pad shares many of its facilities with Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, meaning Rocket Lab mostly just had to create a carbon copy of its New Zealand launch pads.

Rocket Lab first attempted this launch in December but had to delay due to running out of launch days in its window. A second Electron booster is in the company’s Integration and Control Facility, ready for its next mission later this year. Soon more Rocket Lab launch vehicles will come to fly out of Virginia as Neutron is also expected to fly from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). Construction of Neutron’s production facility has already begun, and MARS will soon feature a new launch and landing complex for Rocket Lab’s next-generation reusable rocket.

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch sites

Rocket Lab can launch its Electron rocket from three different sites, two of which are on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand. LC-1A was the original launch pad for Electron and has launched most of the company’s rockets. LC-1B is next to LC-1A and launched its first Electron in February of 2022. The newest launch pad for Electron is on Wallops Island, Virginia, at MARS and is called LC-2.

List of past Rocket Lab launches

Rocket Lab has launched 32 Electron rockets, with its best year being 2022, with nine successful launches so far. Electron has failed during launch three times, giving it a roughly 90% success rate.

2017

Total launches: 1 (1 failure)

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
It’s a TestMay 25, 2017LC-1ASuccessful liftoff and stage separation, but the rocket was destroyed by the range safety officer after connection was lost.

2018

Total launches: 3

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
Still TestingJanuary 21, 2018LC-1AFirst successful launch of Electron and to carry payloads. Deployed four payloads into Earth orbit. The first use of Rocket Lab’s kick stage.
It’s Business TimeNovember 11, 2018LC-1ASuccessful launch of seven CubeSats.
This One’s For PickeringDecember 16, 2018LC-1AThe first launch of a NASA-sponsored payload.

2019

Total launches: 6

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
Two Thumbs UpMarch 28, 2019LC-1AFirst launch for DARPA, sending a test satellite into Earth orbit.
That’s A Funny Looking CactusMay 5, 2019LC-1AFirst launch for the US Air Force and Electron’s first night launch.
Make It RainJune 29, 2019LC-1AFirst launch for BlackSky (now a regular of Rocket Lab) as well as for Swarm Technologies (now owned by SpaceX).
Look Ma, No HandsAugust 19, 2019LC-1ALaunch of a French maritime vessel tracking satellites and another BlackSky payload.
As the Crow FliesOctober 17, 2019LC-1AThe first launch of an upgraded bi-propellent kick stage to boost the payload to a 1,200 km orbit before deorbiting itself.
Running Out Of FingersDecember 6, 2019LC-1AFirst time Rocket Lab performed a re-entry of Electron’s booster to learn more about potential reuse.

2020

Total launches: 7 (1 failure)

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
Birds of a FeatherJanuary 31, 2020LC-1AFirst launch for the National Reconnaissance Office, featured another controlled re-entry of Electron’s booster.
Don’t Stop Me NowJune 13, 2020LC-1ALaunch of three classified payloads for the NRO, ELaNa 32 for NASA, the University of Southern Wales, and the Royal Australian Air Force.
Pics of it didn’t happenJuly 4, 2020LC-1AElectron’s second stage failed during flight due to a faulty electrical connection that was not caught during ground tests.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not OpticalAugust 31, 2020LC-1AFirst flight of Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite bus/kick stage.
In FocusOctober 28, 2020LC-1ALaunch of 10 satellites for Planet Labs (9) and Canon (1).
Return To SenderNovember 20, 2020LC-1AA large group of payloads deployed for various customers, including a mass simulator from Gabe Newell called Gnome Chompski.

First successful recovery of an Electron booster from the water.
The Owl’s Night BeginsDecember 15, 2020LC-1ATest satellites for Japanese-based company Synspective.

2021

Total launches: 6 (1 failure)

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
Another One Leaves The CrustJanuary 20, 2021LC-1ADedicated launch for German-based tech company OHB. The launch took place just six months after the contract signing.
They Go Up So FastMarch 22, 2021LC-1ARocket Lab deployed its 100th satellite into orbit and its second Photon on a risk reduction test flight for NASA.
Running Out Of ToesMay 15, 2021LC-1ASecond successful recovery of Electron’s booster, this time with an upgraded heatshield.

A failure in the second stage’s thrust vector control system caused the engine to be shut down early and the two BlackSky satellites to miss making it to orbit.
It’s A Little Chile Up HereJuly 29, 2021LC-1ALaunch for the US Space Force, originally planned to launch out of LC-2 in Virginia, but NASA did not certify Rocket Lab’s flight termination system in time.
Love At First InsightNovember 18, 2021LC-1ASecond of four launches for BlackSky. Third successful recovery of Electron’s booster, first to have a helicopter track the booster.
A Data At DestinyDecember 9, 2021LC-1AThird of four launches for BlackSky. New turnaround record was set for Rocket Lab at 20 days.

2022

Total launches: 9

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
The Owl’s Night ContinuesFebruary 28, 2022LC-1BDedicated launch for Synspective, first launch from LC-1B in New Zealand.
Without MIssion A BeatApril 2, 2022LC-1AThe final launch of BlackSky’s four launch contract with Rocket Lab.
There And Back AgainMay 2, 2022LC-1ALaunch of 34 satellites for six customers. First attempt of helicopter recovery of Electron booster, which succeeded in grabbing the booster but was forced to release it due to unexpected load characteristics.
CAPSTONEJune 28, 2022LC-1BLaunch of NASA’s CAPSTONE mission to lunar orbit. First launch of NASA’s Artemis Program and first interplanetary for Electron/Rocket Lab. Electron’s booster was stripped to just its bare minimum to maximize lift.
Wise One Looks AheadJuly 13, 2022LC-1AFirst of two missions for the NRO to launch from both pads A and B back to back.
Antipodean AdventureAugust 4, 2022LC-1BSecond of two missions for the NRO to launch from both pads A and B back to back.
The Owl Spreads Its WingsSeptember 15, 2022LC-1BDedicated launch for Synspective, 150th deployed satellites for Rocket Lab.
It Argos Up From HereOcotober 7, 2022LC-1BFirst launch for an NOAA/CNES payload for Rocket Lab.
Catch Me If You CanNovember 4, 2022LC-1BLaunch of research satellite for the Swedish National Space Agency. The helicopter recovery had to be called off due to the loss of telemetry from the booster.

2023

Total launches: 1

Mission NameLaunch DateLaunch SiteNotes
Virginia is for Launch LoversJanuary 24, 2022LC-2Launch of three HawkEye 360 satellites, first Electron launch from a US launch pad.
When is the next Rocket Lab launch?

Rocket Lab’s next Electron launch is set for Tuesday, January 23, with a launch window of 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST.

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