After 17 successful launches of their Electron rocket, Rocket Lab experienced an anomaly during their 20th Electron mission “Running Out Of Toes” following a successful liftoff, first stage burn and stage separation.
According to the company, the issue occurred following second stage ignition during the flight on May 15, 2021, UTC, resulting in the loss of the mission. The launch vehicle’s second stage remained within the predicted launch corridor and caused no harm to the public, Rocket Lab’s launch or recovery crews or the launch site. Electron’s first stage safely completed a successful splashdown under parachute and Rocket Lab’s recovery team is working to retrieve the stage from the ocean as planned.
Rocket Lab is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate the anomaly and identify the root cause to correct the issue for future missions.
“We are deeply sorry to our customer BlackSky for the loss of their payloads. We understand the monumental effort that goes into every spacecraft and we feel their loss and disappointment. Our team is working hard to identify the issue, rectify it, and be safely back on the pad as soon as possible,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and chief executive. “On one of our toughest days, our team operated with professionalism and worked swiftly to ensure the anomaly was managed safely. Our team is resilient, and our top priority remains to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers. We will learn from this, and we will be back on the pad again.”
With multiple launch vehicles currently in production, Rocket Lab is prepared for a rapid return to flight as soon as investigations are complete and any required corrective actions are in place.