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Rocket Lab Wants To Return To Launches

Rocket Lab Failed Launch Review September 19, 2023

On September 19, 2023, Rocket Lab failed the 41st launch of its lightweight Electron launch vehicle. The failure occurred approximately 2.5 minutes after launch, just after the Electron’s second stage engine had fired. The company is still investigating the cause of the failure.

The company had to suspend all launches while it investigated the cause of the failure. This led to delays for its customers, including Capella Space, which had a mission launch just four weeks after the failed launch. The delay also affected Rocket Lab’s financials, as its stock price fell after the announcement of the failed launch. However, the company is confident that it will be able to resume launches by the end of 2023.

In response to the failed launch, Rocket Lab’s management team was transparent about the situation. The company has provided regular updates on the investigation and said it is committed to ensuring the safety and reliability of its launch vehicles. Rocket Lab also emphasized its commitment to its customers, saying it is working closely with them to minimize the impact of the delay.

Rocket Lab plans to return to flight in 2023

Rocket Lab has announced its first mission in 2020 – a dedicated launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Their workhorse Electron rocket, launching from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, will loft the classified NROL-151 satellite to an unknown orbit. Credit: NASA

The company is still investigating the cause of the failure but has already announced its plans to resume launches by the end of 2023. Rocket Lab has developed a comprehensive recovery plan that includes several measures to ensure the success of future launches. The plan aims to identify and eliminate the root cause of the malfunction, improve the reliability of the Electron rocket, and improve the company’s launch infrastructure and processes.

Rocket Lab’s recovery plan outlines the steps the company will take to return to flight. The company will also conduct extensive testing and verification of Electron rocket systems and components to ensure reliability.

The company received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume Electron launches from Launch Complex 1. Rocket Lab also invested in developing a new launch pad in Virginia, USA, providing additional launch capacity and flexibility. In addition, the company has created a dedicated team to oversee the implementation of the recovery plan and ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent future disruptions.

As a leading provider of small satellite launch services, Rocket Lab plays a critical role in the fast-growing small satellite industry, which is projected to reach $15 billion by 2025.

As of November 2023, the company has launched 171 satellites into space.

Banner image: Credit: Rocket Lab USA
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