The Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE) aims to provide reliable, high-cadence flight test opportunities necessary for advancing hypersonic system technology development, with an inaugural launch meant to occur in the first half of 2023 for a customer of which Rocket Lab did not reveal the name.
“Rocket Lab has a strong track record of delivering tailored and reliable space capabilities for the civil space and national security communities across launch and space systems and HASTE is an extension of this” – Brian Rogers, Senior Director – Global Launch Services (Rocket Lab USA)
It is to note that HASTE is evolved from Rocket Lab’s flagship Electron launch vehicle. The latter has been providing reliable access to orbit since 2018, and has successfully participated in deploying satellites for NASA, the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office), DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and the U.S. Space Force.
“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” – Brian Rogers
On its side, HASTE relies on the same innovative carbon composite structure and 3D printed Rutherford engines. It just benefits from a modified Kick Stage for hypersonic payload deployment, a larger payload capacity of up to 700 kg, and options for tailored fairings to accommodate larger payloads.
“HASTE is not the promise of a future capability – it’s a completed launch vehicle ready for flight now, with the first one currently preparing for launch at our Integration and Control Facility in Wallops, Virginia, in the coming months” – Brian Rogers
For now, HASTE will be operated under Rocket Lab National Security (RLNS), the company’s wholly owned subsidiary. The latter was created to service the needs of the U.S. defense and intelligence community and its allies.