Rocket Lab is preparing to launch a mission from the East Coast of the United States in the next few days, but you won’t be able to watch it live.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Advertise via Twitter on Tuesday (June 13) that it was “scheduled to support the launch of Rocket Lab between June 15 and 20 in the evening.”
California-based Rocket Lab regularly broadcasts online broadcasts of its Electron orbital rocket, but we won’t see this launch online: “There is no live broadcast planned for the launch, and the Wallops Visitor Center will not be open for the launch,” Wallops officials said and added in a tweet Tuesday.
Related: Rocket Lab launched the first US soil electron booster at launch time
So, what could be such an unusual task Silence? It’s unclear, but circumstantial evidence points to the first-ever launch of Rocket Lab’s new suborbital test rocket.
This trigger is called HASTE, which stands for Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron. As that name suggests, HASTE is derived from Workhorse Electron and is designed to help test technologies for hypersonic vehicles – highly maneuverable vehicles capable of flying at least five times the speed of sound.
HASTE can tow up to 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of payload aloft, while Electron can deliver a maximum of 660 pounds (300 kilograms) to low Earth orbit. The suborbital missile also features a modified version of the Electron’s “kick stage” that is specialized for deploying hypersonic payloads, Rocket Lab said in an April 17 statement: Declare a HASTE.
The suborbital rocket is scheduled to make its debut right now, on a mission whose details are hard to come by, according to that statement.
“HASTE provides reliable, high-tempo flight-testing opportunities needed to advance hypersonic systems technology development, with an inaugural launch scheduled for the first half of 2023 for a classified customer,” Rocket Lab representatives said in the statement.
HASTE will be primarily operated by Rocket Lab National Security, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company dedicated to launching missions for the defense and intelligence communities of the United States and its allies.
The April 17 statement added that the new suborbital rocket would only be launched from Rocket Lab’s Wallops platform. (The company also has a launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula, on New Zealand’s North Island.)
So it seems likely that HASTE is the mystery car flying out of Wallops in the next few days. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for any confirmation from Rocket Lab that this is indeed the case.
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