Rocket Lab is planning its first launch from U.S. soil, a commercial mission for customer Hawkeye 360. Credit: Rocket Lab

WASHINGTON — HawkEye 360, a provider of space-based radio frequency data, announced Nov. 9 its next three satellites will launch as early as December 7 on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from a Virginia spaceport.

The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will be Rocket Lab USA’s first from U.S. soil. The company to date has only launched missions from New Zealand. It developed Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport — located within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility —  to support U.S. customers. 

There will be a 13-day launch window starting December 7 for the launch of Hawkeye 360’s three “Cluster 6” satellites

Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, HawkEye 360 uses radio-frequency data analytics to geolocate electronic emissions and draw insights. Its small satellites fly in triangular formations in low Earth orbit. As a cluster passes over an area, each satellite observes signal waveforms and downlinks the data to a cloud system on the ground where it’s analyzed. The data is used to detect activities such as illegal fishing or GPS jamming

The Cluster 6 satellites will fly to an inclined orbit to boost revisits over the mid-latitude regions of the globe, HawkEye 360 said. The December launch will be the first of three flights the company booked with Rocket Lab, Rob Rainhart, chief operating officer of HawkEye 360, said in a statement. 

The company currently operates 15 satellites, including 12 modernized next-generation satellites. Cluster 6 will grow the constellation to 18. Cluster 7 is projected to launch in February and Clusters 8 and 9 by mid-year. 

Once Cluster 6 is operational, HawkEye 360 says it will be able to collect RF data as frequently as every hour anywhere in the world. 

HawkEye 360 is one of six companies that recently signed agreements with the National Reconnaissance Office to provide space-based RF data as part of an effort by the agency to increase use of commercially available geospatial intelligence.

Since the company was founded in 2015, HawkEye 360 has raised more than $300 million in six funding rounds.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...