Rocket Lab’s 13th Electron Mission ‘Pics Or It Didn’t Happen’ Fails to Reach Orbit

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket experienced an anomaly during its 13th mission ‘Pics Or It Didn’t Happen’ following a successful lift-off, first stage burn, and stage separation.

According to the Rocket Lab statement, the issue occurred approximately four minutes into the flight on July 4, 2020 and resulted in the safe loss of the vehicle and, as a result, the payloads onboard Electron were not deployed to orbit.

The rocket lifted off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 5:19:36 p.m. EDT (2119:36 GMT) carrying satellites for Canon Electronics, Planet and In-Space Missions.

The statement said that Electron remained within the predicted launch corridors and caused no harm to personnel or the launch site. The statement added that Rocket Lab is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate the anomaly and identify its root cause to correct the issue to move forward.

“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 launch team operated with professionalism and expertise to implement systems and procedures that ensured the anomaly was managed safely. I’m proud of the way they have responded to a tough day. We’re working together as a team to comb through the data, learn from today, and prepare for our next mission.”

Today’s anomaly occurred after 11 consecutive successful orbital launches of the Electron launch vehicle. Rocket Lab currently has more than eight Electron vehicles in production.

The company said that it is ready for a rapid return to flight as soon as investigations are complete and any required corrective actions are in place.

Rocket Lab ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ Mission Launch
File image: Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ mission at 05:12 UTC on June 13 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ mission carried Boston University’s ANDESITE Satellite which was launched as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), three NRO payloads and UNSW Canberra Space’s M2 Pathfinder satellite. Rocket Lab Photo.

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