WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — Rocket Lab's Electron rocket lifted off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at 6 o'clock on the nose Tuesday. It was the first flight from American soil by the space launch company.
The mission, named "Virginia is for Launch Lovers," will deploy radio frequency monitoring satellites.
The rocket was originally scheduled to take off on December 18, but high upper-level winds caused the launch team to put a hold on the launch for almost two hours before they determined that launching wouldn't be safe under the existing conditions.
Officials at NASA Wallops said most of the East Coast should be able to see the launch, weather permitting.
Watch the livestream below:
This is Rocket Lab's first Electron launch in the United States, although the company has previously conducted 32 Electron missions in New Zealand.
Rocket Lab announced in October 2018 that Launch Complex 2, its first American launch complex, would be built at Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Wallops Flight Facility was one of four spaceports shortlisted for the launch site. Wallops ultimately beat out Cape Canaveral in Florida, the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska, and the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Officials said in part, the reasons Wallops was picked was because the surrounding area is quiet, the facility already had much of the necessary team and infrastructure in place, and the complex could be built on the company's timeline.
The rocket is Rocket Lab's fourth launch vehicle. The first three had names that doubled as both the name of the mission and of the vehicle itself.
The very first Electron was named "It's a Test." It failed as a result of a problem with communication equipment on the ground. The next two, both launched in 2018, were named "Still Testing" and "It's Business Time." Both made it to orbit.