Thursday, April 18, 2024

Rocket Lab’s HASTE boost vehicle achieves first suborbital launch

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its first suborbital testbed launch vehicle, called HASTE (Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron), designed to boost hypersonic vehicles well past Mach 5.

The HASTE launch vehicle lifted off on Saturday, June 17, from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2 at Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA‘s Wallops Flight Facility.

The HASTE, which is launched for confidential customers, is a suborbital launch vehicle derived from the company’s Electron rocket but has a modified Kick Stage for hypersonic payload deployment. The vehicle comprises the same innovative carbon composite structure and the same 3D-printed Rutherford engines as the Electron rocket. The modified third stage of HASTE can be controlled to give it flight trajectories and payload release conditions that can be adjusted in accordance with the individual needs of client missions.

In addition to this, HASTE has an increased payload capacity of up to 700 kg (1,540 lbs). It also has options for tailored fairings to accommodate larger payloads, including air-breathing, ballistic re-entry, boost-glide, and space-based application payloads.

By leveraging the heritage of Rocket Lab’s low-cost Electron, HASTE offers true commercial testing capability at a fraction of the cost of current full-scale tests.

“The success of this mission demonstrates collaboration across government and industry partners to change the paradigm in hypersonic testing,” said Brian Rogers, Senior Director – Global Launch Services. “HASTE enables the frequent, affordable flight testing needed to advance the nation’s hypersonic technology development, and we’re proud to be delivering this vital capability. We thank our mission partners for entrusting us with this inaugural mission and look forward to continuing our partnership into the future.”

HASTE will operate under Rocket Lab National Security (RLNS), the Rocket Lab’s subsidiary, created to serve the unique needs of the U.S. defense and intelligence community and its allies. Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 within the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is the launch site for HASTE.