Rocket Lab’s recent launch for Capella Space ended in failure, marking the company’s first Electron rocket failure in over two years. The mission, titled “We Will Never Desert You,” launched from New Zealand at 6:55 p.m. local time on September 19. The rocket successfully completed its initial stage burn and stage separation. However, approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the flight, an issue occurred, resulting in the mission’s termination and the loss of one satellite for Capella Space.
During the launch broadcast, stage separation was captured on camera; however, the feed was cut off shortly after. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck expressed his apologies to Capella Space via Twitter, stating that the team is already investigating the root cause of the failure and working towards rectifying the issue promptly.
As a result of the anomaly, Rocket Lab will be postponing its next mission, which was initially planned for completion before the end of the third quarter. The company also intends to revise its third-quarter revenue guidance. Rocket Lab had anticipated a total of four missions during this quarter, and the failed launch was the third attempt. Rocket Lab has set a target of 15 launches in 2023, with this failed launch being the eighth to date.
Capella Space, a longtime customer of Rocket Lab, had its third-generation synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite, named Acadia, onboard the failed mission. Despite the setback, Capella CEO Payam Banazadeh tweeted that they would continue working with Rocket Lab to explore options for future satellite launches.
This failure is the third experienced by the Electron rocket since its initial successful orbit in 2018. Previous failures occurred in July 2020 and May 2021. Despite these setbacks, the Electron rocket has delivered a total of 171 satellites into orbit through 37 successful orbital missions.