Rocket Lab Is Planning a Secret Launch. Here’s What We Think It Could Be

Rocket Lab Is Planning a Secret Launch. Here’s What We Think It Could Be

NASA’s launch facility in Virginia has been prepped for an upcoming Rocket Lab launch, the details of which are under tight wraps.

Rocket Lab is gearing up for its mystery launch, which is scheduled to take place sometime between June 15 to 20 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. “There is no live stream planned for launch and the Wallops Visitor Centre will not be open for launch,” NASA Wallops wrote on Twitter.

The California-based company has not disclosed any information regarding its upcoming launch, although it’s presumed that Rocket Lab will be flying its suborbital testbed rocket for the first time, first reported.

Rocket Lab’s HASTE (Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron) launch vehicle is set to make its debut in the first half of 2023 for a “confidential customer,” the company had announced earlier in April. HASTE, derived from the company’s Electron rocket, is designed to test hypersonic technologies for vehicles that are capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound.

“The [Department of Defence’s] ability to test these systems has been limited,” Brian Rogers, senior director of Rocket Lab’s Global Launch Services, said in the April statement. “With HASTE, we’ve taken a proven vehicle in Electron and tailored it specifically to deliver highly capable, frequent, and cost-effective hypersonic and suborbital test opportunities from our existing launch site in Virginia.”

HASTE is mainly operated under the company’s national security subsidiary “created to serve the unique needs of the U.S. defence and intelligence community and its allies,” Rocket Lab wrote in the statement.

Rocket Lab has had a few of its launches shrouded in mystery, including a small classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, in which Electron’s kick stage transformed to an orbital satellite that separated from the rocket for a secret test flight in 2020, and a secret disco-ball-shaped satellite that launched in 2018 for another secret test flight.

The private space venture is on a bit of a high following the successful deployment of its Photon spacecraft in support of Varda’s first attempt to manufacture pharmaceuticals in orbit. As a result, Rocket Lab’s stock enjoyed a slight uptick this week. The company, poised to rival industry giant SpaceX, also has big plans ahead, even wanting to launch the first private mission to Venus.

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