Rocket Lab's $11.5 million rocket burns up on re-entering atmosphere

Pablo Tucker
July 5, 2020

The main satellite aboard the rocket was meant to demonstrate Canon Electronics Inc.'s Earth-imaging technology.

A rocket from small-satellite launch firm Rocket Lab failed to reach orbit minutes after a successful liftoff from New Zealand on Saturday, the company said, losing its payload of seven small satellites it had meant to carry to space.

Rocket Lab's "Pic or it didn't happen" launch on Saturday ended in failure, with a total loss of the Electron launch vehicle and all seven payloads on board.

"We lost the flight late into the mission", he tweeted. This is the company's 13th Electron flight, and the next planned test in that system's development is set for flight 17.

"The financial loss here is generally covered from our customers by insurance. but the bigger loss for us as a company is the time it'll take to investigate it fully and make the corrective action to the launch vehicle", Mr Beck said.

Rocket Lab co-founder Peter Beck.

"We were the fourth most launched rocket in the world past year and this is something we always prepared for ... every rocket has a failure at some point, so this is probably hurts our pride a lot more than anything".

"We won't put another vehicle into the sky until we are really, really happy, and we have got thousands and thousands of channels of data to trawl through to figure out route cause and make any corrections", he said. "We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron".

Rocket Lab lists itself as a United States company with headquarters at a wholly-owned New Zealand subsidiary and specialises in delivering small satellites to low Earth orbit.

In a media release, Rocket Labs said the issue happened about four minutes into Electron's flight, resulting in the "safe loss of the vehicle".

"We know many people poured their hearts and souls into those spacecraft. I'm proud of the way they have responded to a tough day".

Rocket Lab's website details the satellites that were to be deployed.

The launch included a 67-kilogramme earth-imaging satellite for Canon Electronics to photograph objects on the ground as small as 90 centimetres wide.

The satellite, capable of taking images with a resolution of 90cm, was meant to demonstrate the spacecraft's technologies as the company prepared mass production of similar satellites.

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