The private aerospace company Rocket Lab’s 13th Electron mission ended in failure on Saturday, July 4, 2020, after the Electron rocket with several satellites on board was lost about four minutes, following a successful lift-off and stage separation. The anomaly occurred after 11 consecutive successful orbital launches of the Electron launch vehicle.
The company’s Electron rocket took off at 17:19 ET from the Rocket Lab‘s main launch facility on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, to launch seven satellites into orbit. Exactly what happened to the rocket is so far unclear, but the live stream from it all was interrupted, and in connection with this live data from the launch showed that the rocket was starting to lose altitude. The company has stated that they will work with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate what went wrong during this weekend’s rocket launch.
“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,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder, and CEO.
The Rocket Electron, developed by the New Zealand company Rocket Lab, is intended for the transport of small satellites into a low earth orbit. In 2018, it launched a satellite into space for the first time. Rocket Lab currently has more than eight Electron vehicles in production, ready for a rapid return to flight as soon as investigations are complete and any required corrective actions are in place.