Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Rocket Lab’s 41st Launch Ends in Failure, Breaking Streak

Rocket Lab experienced a failure during its 41st launch, breaking a streak of successful launches since 2021. The exact cause of the failure is unclear, but it occurred approximately two and a half minutes after launch when the first stage of the Electron rocket separated from the second stage carrying the payload. The livestream of the launch froze, and silence followed in the control room. The team initiated their anomaly plan and is currently investigating the incident.

The payload, owned by Capella Space based in San Francisco, was lost in the failure. The status of the rocket’s first stage, which seemed to have separated correctly, was not mentioned. Rocket Lab stated that they are working with the Federal Aviation Administration and other supporting agencies to determine what went wrong.

Rocket Lab has previously completed 37 successful orbital missions, delivering 171 satellites to orbit. They are committed to identifying the issue swiftly, implementing corrective actions, and returning to launch missions soon. Capella Space expressed disappointment over the loss of their Acadia-2 satellite but remains committed to launching further Acadia satellites in the future.

According to the FCC, the mission experienced a mishap during stage separation after launch, with no reports of injuries or property damage. Rocket Lab will be overseeing the investigation of the mishap, and the FAA will provide final approval of the root causes and corrective actions identified.

Rocket Lab has been quietly establishing itself as a significant player in the private space industry, with several successful launches under its belt. While previous attempts to catch the first stage of the Electron rocket with a helicopter failed, Rocket Lab has overcome challenges such as faulty electronics and engine failures in previous missions. The failed 41st launch would have deployed Capella Space’s Acadia synthetic aperture radar satellite, which offers advanced Earth observation capabilities. The future launch schedule for Capella’s satellite constellation is uncertain following the failure.