Revolutionary Electron Rocket


Katrina Mulder, Reporter

On January 24, 2023, Nasa launched its first electron rocket on U.S. territory. An electron rocket is the only reusable small orbital-class rocket. Since the rocket is reusable, the cost of launching is decreased significantly compared to regular rockets. There have only been 33 electron rockets launched to this date with 30 of them succeeding and 3 failures. These rockets are mainly used to launch satellites in precise areas.

At Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, history was made in the U.S. when they successfully launched their first electron rocket. During the launch mission nicknamed “Virginia is for Launch Lovers”, they planned to set satellites into specific areas in the exosphere which also went according to plan. In 2020, the rocket lab had hoped to launch an electron rocket but due to the necessity of an autonomous flight termination system, they were set back years from achieving their goal. The launch date had been postponed not only once, but twice. There were some technological errors on December 18, which resulted in them rescheduling to January 14th. When the 14th arrived, Nasa decided to postpone the launch another 10 days due to bad weather conditions.

Nasa’s goal in liftoff of the rocket was to test how accurately the electron rocket could deploy the satellites. During the ejection of the satellites there were difficulties with the communications-receiving ground station which caused the deploying of the satellites to be delayed another 35 minutes. Even with all the delays and problems, it was still a success.

This recent rocket launch paved the way for Nasa to be capable of sending monthly flights from the East Coast. Though the electron rocket is reusable, Nasa didn’t make any effort to retrieve it. The reason for Nasa not retrieving the rocket is unknown. After the success of the rocket, the lab is now able to move forward and advance a larger reusable rocket called a neutron rocket. This next rocket is predicted to be constructed no earlier than 2024. Nasa is hoping to launch another electron rocket sometime within March.