Rocket fail­ure after fault

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - Chris Keall

Rocket Lab says it has found the cause of its failed mis­sion on July 5

— a sin­gle elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion.

The rocket launched suc­cess­fully from the Ma¯ hia Penin­sula but failed to reach or­bit. It started slid­ing back­wards about three min­utes into its sec­ond-stage burn and the en­gine per­formed a safe shut­down. The rocket burned up on re-en­ter­ing the at­mos­phere.

The mis­sion, called “Pics or it Didn’t Hap­pen”, was car­ry­ing a 67kg Earthimag­ing satel­lite for Canon Elec­tron­ics to pho­to­graph ob­jects on the ground as small as 90cm wide.

Beck said cus­tomers’ in­sur­ance would cover the cost of the failed mis­sion’s cargo.

The fail­ure came amid a Rocket Lab at­tempt to demon­strate its “warp­speed” ca­pa­bil­ity to carry out a launch ev­ery three weeks.

But early in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion process, chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Beck told the Her­ald the prob­lem had likely been “baked-in” months ago dur­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Yes­ter­day Rocket Lab con­firmed its in­ves­ti­ga­tion had nar­rowed down the is­sue to a sin­gle faulty elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion.

“The is­sue oc­curred un­der in­cred­i­bly spe­cific and unique cir­cum­stances, caus­ing the con­nec­tion to fail in a way that we wouldn’t de­tect with stan­dard test­ing. Our team has now re­li­ably repli­cated the is­sue in test and iden­ti­fied that it can be mit­i­gated through ad­di­tional test­ing and pro­ce­dures,” Beck said.

Since its in­cep­tion, Rocket Lab has put 53 space­craft into low-Earth or­bit on 12 sep­a­rate mis­sions.

With cor­rec­tive mea­sures un­der way, the Kiwi-Amer­i­can com­pany says it has re­ceived ap­proval from the US Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) to re­sume launches. The next Elec­tron launch has been sched­uled for this month from Launch Com­plex 1 in Ma¯ hia.

Pho­tos / Rocket Lab

The rocket launched suc­cess­fully but started slid­ing back­wards about three min­utes into its sec­ond-stage burn (in­set).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.