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Rocket Lab faces 'anomaly' during botched launch of Earth-observation satellite

Rocket Lab faces 'anomaly' during botched launch of Earth-observation satellite
19 Sep 2023

All did not go well with Rocket Lab's launch of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft for Capella Space.

An Electron rocket, carrying the Earth-observation satellite, lifted off from Rocket Lab's New Zealand site at 2:55am EDT (12:25pm IST) today.

As planned, the rocket's two stages separated about 2.5 minutes after liftoff. However, a technical glitch that happened thereafter brought the mission to an end.

The cause of the anomaly remains unknown
Anomaly suggests that the upper-stage engine on the rocket may have suffered an ignition failure or a premature shutdown. However, that is only a speculation.

Per Rocket Lab's post on X, the launch director "called it an anomaly" but the company did not specifically provide a reason for what caused the mission to end today.

Rocket Lab has stated it will provide more information on the matter as it becomes available.

This mission was part of a four-launch contract

Today's mission was the second in the series of the four-launch contract for Capella Space's advanced SAR satellites.

It was supposed to deliver one of Capella Space's "Acadia" satellites to a circular orbit about 635km above Earth.

Today's mission, which the company refers to as "We Will Never Desert You," was Rocket Lab's ninth mission of the year and 41st overall.

Today's failure broke the company's record of 19 successful launches

Rocket Lab flew the first mission in its launch contract with Acadia called "We Love the Nightlife" on August 23.

The company, which has been working to make its booster reusable achieved a significant milestone on that flight which featured an Electron rocket with one used first-stage engine.

The company also recovered Electron's first stage, after it was brought back with ocean splashdown.

Rocket Lab had a history of 19 consecutive successful launches before the anomaly today.