Rocket Lab experiments Electron on the new launch pad of Virginia

WASHINGTON – Rocket Lab has conducted experiment an Electron spaceship on its new Virginia launch pad at the forefront of a launch that has since been pushed back to later in the current year. 

The company stated on an April 29 statement that it rolled out an Electron spaceship to the launch pad at Launch Complex2 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located on the Wallops Island, Virginia, lastly for several tests to confirm the interfaces between the vehicle and the pad.  The experiments ended with a short static-fire analysis of the nine initial engines of the Electron. The firm confirmed that the spaceship and ground systems worked seamlessly during the operations.

The spaceship will be of use in the launching of Monolith, which is an Air Force Research Lab small sat meant to display the capability in deploying a large-aperture payload for space weather observations. The syndicate announced in December that payload would be the first to send off from the new launch pad, which was set for the second quarter of 2020 at the time. 

The launch has lost balance, although Rocket Lab confirmed in a statement that the start is currently set for not earlier than the third quarter of the current year. 

One of the causes for the delay is the urge to get the spaceships new autonomous flight termination systems (AFTS) attested by NASA, which overlooks the launch range. During an interview in the better part of April, Pete Beck, who is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Rocket lab, stated that the operation had been delayed due to the closing of NASA centers such as Wallops Flight Facility due to the pandemic outbreak.

Pete Beck announced that it is really beyond their control in a lot of respects. He added that NASA requires certifying its AFTS unit for initiating out of the NASA range, and NASA is in a bit of a country lockdown. 

Rocket Lab confirmed in the statement concerning the LC-2 tests that NASA anticipates completing the certification on time to backup a launch in the third quarter. The launches will spot the first use of the independent flight termination system from the Wallops. 

David Pierce, who is the Wallops Flight Facility director, stated in the Rocket Lab statement that for about two decades, NASA and the DOD have been operating to build up an AFTS system that is accessible for usage by all range users.