Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket Fails During Capella Space Satellite Launch

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket carrying a radar-imaging satellite for Capella Space experienced a failure during its flight. This marked the fourth failure out of 41 flights for the small satellite launcher. The rocket lifted off from Rocket Lab’s spaceport in New Zealand and everything seemed to be going well until two and a half minutes after liftoff when a problem occurred.

As the second stage engine of the rocket was supposed to ignite, a shower of sparks was seen instead. Video footage from the rocket’s cameras froze, indicating a loss of velocity. Launch controllers announced an anomaly and stated that further investigation would be conducted.

The Electron rocket was carrying the second of four Acadia radar-imaging satellites for Capella Space. The Acadia series is the company’s third generation of satellites, equipped with a powerful radar system that can image the Earth’s surface day and night, even through clouds, fog, smoke, and rain. The first Acadia satellite was successfully launched in August 2023 and is already providing radar-imagery.

This launch failure adds to the previous three failures experienced by the Electron rocket. All four failures occurred after the separation of the first stage during the flight of the second stage. Rocket Lab’s first flight in 2017 did not reach orbit due to a ground software problem, while the failure preceding this one happened in May 2021.

Rocket Lab has stated that more information will be shared as it becomes available.