Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Rocket Lab Launch Anomaly Ends Radar Satellite Mission

Rocket Lab experienced an anomaly during the launch of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft for Capella Space on Tuesday morning. The Electron rocket lifted off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand site as scheduled but encountered an issue shortly after the separation of its two stages. Rocket Lab has termed the issue as an anomaly, resulting in the termination of the mission.

During the livestream of the launch, Rocket Lab provided telemetry data which indicated a decrease in the velocity of the rocket’s upper stage after its single Rutherford engine was supposed to activate. The exact cause of the anomaly is still unknown, and Rocket Lab has stated that they will provide more information as it becomes available.

This mission, named “We Will Never Desert You,” was Rocket Lab’s ninth of the year and 41st overall. It aimed to deliver one of Capella Space’s “Acadia” satellites to a circular orbit about 395 miles above Earth. This launch was part of a four-launch contract for Capella’s advanced SAR satellites.

Rocket Lab had previously achieved 19 consecutive successful launches before this anomaly. Their most recent failure occurred in May 2021. Prior to this mission, Rocket Lab had successfully recovered the Electron’s first stage on their last launch, showcasing progress towards their goal of reusability.

In contrast to the previous launch, this mission did not involve a preflown engine, and Rocket Lab did not mention any plans for rocket recovery. Further details about the cause of the anomaly and any future updates will be shared by Rocket Lab.