Rocket Lab
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Mission to Deploy Satellites Fails

July 6, 2020
Rocket Lab says unexpected anomaly results in loss of launch vehicle and payload.

The 13th mission of Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle failed to reach orbit on July 4, resulting in both the loss of the rocket and its payload.

Prior to the weekend’s letdown, the Long Beach, Calif.-based company had recorded 11 consecutive orbital launches of its Electron launch vehicle, which is designed to take small satellites into space.

The July 4 mission, named ‘Pics or It Didn’t Happen,’ was to deploy seven small satellites to a low earth orbit for several customers, including Canon Electronics Inc. The launch took place at Rocket Lab’s private launch site in New Zealand.

While the cause of the failure has yet to be identified, the company said the issue occurred approximately four minutes into the flight, following a successful lift-off, first stage burn and stage separation.

“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,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement.

Rocket Lab said it is working closely with the FAA to investigate, identify the root cause of the anomaly and rectify it. No personnel were injured, and the launch site was unharmed, Rocket Lab said.

“We’re working together as a team to comb through the data, learn from today and prepare for our next mission,” Beck said.

Rocket Lab said it has more than eight Electron rockets in production.

Rocket Lab was incorporated in 2006, and is among the growing number of private companies entering the space launch industry.

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