Following a perfect lift-off from Rocket Lab’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula on Sunday, July 5 local time, its Electron rocket’s payload failed to reach orbit after an anomaly occurred several minutes into the flight during the vehicle’s second-stage burn.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck described the failure of the mission as a “tough day” for the team, and apologized to Spaceflight, Canon Electronics, Planet, and In-Space Mission for failing to get their satellites — seven in all — into orbit.
We lost the flight late into the mission. I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon.
— Peter Beck (@Peter_J_Beck) July 4, 2020
The precise issue is yet to be established, though Rocket Lab said it occurred during the Electron’s second-stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available, the company said.
A live video feed from the Electron rocket froze about 5 minutes and 45 seconds into the flight, and around 45 seconds later a launch operative uttered the ominous phrase: “Initiating mishap response plan.”
“Today’s anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving,” a deeply disappointed Beck said in a release posted on its website on Sunday. “The launch team operated with professionalism and expertise to implement systems and procedures that ensured the anomaly was managed safely.”
The CEO added that Rocket Lab engineers are now examining the data from the failed mission to “learn from today and prepare for our next mission.”
Sunday’s mission, called “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen,” was originally scheduled to launch a day earlier, but poor weather conditions forced a delay.
Rocket Lab had been enjoying an impressive run of successful missions recently as it seeks to make an impact in the small-satellite launch sector alongside the likes of SpaceX.