Skip to main content

Rocket Lab loses payload as latest mission fails to reach orbit

Following a perfect lift-off from Rocket Lab’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula on Sunday, July 5 local time, its Electron rocket’s payload failed to reach orbit after an anomaly occurred several minutes into the flight during the vehicle’s second-stage burn.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck described the failure of the mission as a “tough day” for the team and apologized to Spaceflight, Canon Electronics, Planet, and In-Space Mission for failing to get their satellites — seven in all — into orbit.

The precise issue is yet to be established, though Rocket Lab said it occurred during the Electron’s second-stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available, the company said.

A live video feed from the Electron rocket froze about 5 minutes and 45 seconds into the flight, and around 45 seconds later a launch operative uttered the ominous phrase: “Initiating mishap response plan.”

Rocket Lab - Pics Or It Didn't Happen Launch

“Today’s anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving,” a deeply disappointed Beck said in a release posted on its website on Sunday. “The launch team operated with professionalism and expertise to implement systems and procedures that ensured the anomaly was managed safely.”

The CEO added that Rocket Lab engineers are now examining the data from the failed mission to “learn from today and prepare for our next mission.”

Sunday’s mission, called “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen,” was originally scheduled to launch a day earlier, but poor weather conditions forced a delay.

Rocket Lab had been enjoying an impressive run of successful missions recently as it seeks to make an impact in the small-satellite launch sector alongside the likes of SpaceX.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
SpaceX is gearing up for a record-breaking rocket flight
A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster coming in to land.

A reusable first-stage Falcon 9 booster coming in to land. SpaceX / SpaceX

SpaceX is expected to launch one of its first-stage Falcon 9 boosters for a record 20th time in the coming weeks.

Read more
Watch SpaceX highlights of Falcon 9’s 300th successful mission
A Falcon 9 rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in February 2024.

SpaceX has just achieved the 300th successful flight of its trusty Falcon 9 rocket -- 14 years after the first one.

Tuesday’s milestone mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:11 p.m. ET and deployed the HTS-113BT communications satellite as part of the Merah Putih 2 mission for state-owned Indonesian company Telkomsat.

Read more
SpaceX just launched a moon mission that could enter the history books
Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander heads to the moon.

SpaceX successfully launched a commercial mission to the moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A Falcon 9 rocket carried Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander to orbit, setting it on course for a rendezvous with the lunar surface next week.

Read more