Rocket Lab has failed to deploy for the second time in a year. The business said that shortly after the second stage ignition on its 20th Electron mission (“Running out of Toes”), a “anomaly” occurred, resulting in the loss of both the vehicle and BlackSky’s Earth observation satellite payloads.
The first stage splashed down in the ocean, as was planned, and Rocket Lab hoped to recover it. The second stage had followed its pre-determined flight path and posed no threat to anyone.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck apologised to BlackSky and vowed that the incident would be investigated. As soon as possible, he vowed, the team will be “safely back on the pad.” Rocket Lab, as usual, has a number of vehicles in the works and does not have to wait long. Rocket Lab was back in the air in just a few weeks after a fiasco in July 2020.
Rocket Lab’s missions have mostly been successful so far, with 17 hitting orbit. This latest problem, on the other hand, will not benefit the business in the short term, and it serves as a reminder that spaceflight startups, regardless of their technical abilities, often run into issues early on.
SpaceX spent years working out weaknesses in its reusable rocketry, and months of unsuccessful launches preceded Starship’s safe landing just days ago. It can take some fine-tuning until Rocket Lab is able to overcome its difficulties.