2022’s Virginia Rocket Launch to Get NAFTU Certification from NASA11th Jan 2022
Rocket Lab will have its first US rocket launch from Launch Complex 2. Launch Complex 2, made for the Electron rocket, should support orbital launches every month. These launches should support both commercial and US government payloads. The complex has been in construction since early 2020. Back then, Rocket Lab brought the Electron rocket to launch but got delayed by the AFTS (Autonomous Flight Termination System) that they’re going to use at range.
Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket Launch to Certify the NAFTU
Jeremy Eggers, the spokesperson for NASA has mentioned that NASA is aiming to certify NAFTU through this rocket launch. NAFTU is the NASA Autonomous Flight Termination Unit developed software. Rocket Lab plans to use it for the flights they take at Wallops, working together with the space agency to develop a stronger partnership. And the certification seems to be closer than ever, as on the 17th of December, the latest documentation and software on NAFTU was released.
Eggers said that NASA is trying to certify NAFTU by the end of February this year. As soon as this is going to happen, he continued, then Rocket Lab will have to be processing the software with hardware so that a safety review is completed. The Wallops rocket launch is expected to happen during this year’s second quarter. In the meantime, Rocket Lab says they are ready for Wallops, so ready that they could fly a rocket from the pad as soon as possible.
Rocket Lab CEO, Peter Beck, added that there had been some delays with certification at NASA so far. Rocket Lab’s decision to launch at Wallops and not Cape Canaveral in 2018 triggered an aggressive timeline. The hopes at the time were to launch from the pad at Wallops in 2019’s third quarter. However, the delays with certification had Rocket Lab launching from the New Zealand Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.
NASA Needs Certified Software and Software Updates
Furthermore, Rocket Lab CEO says that NASA needs to certify its software and update it for the Electron rocket launch, especially if it’s looking to eliminate all the pain of a flight system being terminated just when launch providers are developing new technology systems.