Rocket Lab’s Electron mission failure takes out seven satellites

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 5, 2020, 11:32 am CDT
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Rocket Lab’s Electron mission failure takes out seven satellites

Rocket Lab experienced a mission failure on July 4th for reasons that remain unclear, resulting in the loss of both the launch vehicle and the seven satellites carried as payload. The company aims to offer rapid launches for small payloads like CubeSats; it has already had a dozen successful missions and had several launches planned for later this year.

As expected, Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket on July 4. It was carrying seven satellites, the primary of which was a microsatellite from camera maker Canon. Everything ran smoothly during the initial parts of the launch, which Rocket Lab detailed on its Twitter account and in a live feed.

Electron successfully experienced lift-off, marking the company’s 13th launch. The company shared a couple of brief progress updates before the live feed suddenly disappeared. In a statement a while later, Rocket Lab said that ‘an issue’ was experienced that caused the mission failure. Both the Electron and the satellite payloads were lost as a result.

The loss occurred late in the mission, according to Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. He vowed that the company would learn what went wrong with this launch and would fix it before future launches, which it seems are still in the pipeline — it’s unclear whether there will be any delays as a result of this incident.

Rocket Lab says that it is working with the FAA to investigate the incident and work on a fix. In a formal statement, Beck said:

We are deeply sorry to our customers Spaceflight Inc., Canon Electronics Inc., Planet, and In-Space Missions for the loss of their payloads. We know many people poured their hearts and souls into those spacecraft. Today’s anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving, but we will identify the issue, rectify it, and be safely back on the pad as soon as possible.


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