Rocket Lab’s Electron suffers first failure in over two years

Rocket Lab’s forty-first Electron mission on behalf of customer Capella Space ended in failure early Tuesday, with issues abruptly appearing after stage separation around two-and-a-half minutes after launch.

The live video feed of the rocket stopped working shortly after the second stage ignited its engine. Around 45 seconds after stage separation, the launch director declared, “All stations, we have experienced an anomaly.” The company said it would work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on the investigation into the anomaly, which is the standard practice for launch failures.

“We are deeply sorry to our partners Capella Space for the loss of the mission,” the company said in a launch update. “We are working closely with the FAA and supporting agencies as the investigation into the root cause commences.”

This is the fourth mission failure overall for Rocket Lab, and the first since May 2021. The company said that its next mission, which was due to launch before the end of the third quarter, would be delayed while it implements “corrective actions” to resolve the root cause.

In the meantime, Rocket Lab said it would provide revised revenue guidance for that quarter. In a second-quarter earnings report, the company projected revenues of around $30 million from launch. Overall, Rocket Lab projected bringing in between $73-$77 million, with the majority coming from its space systems division.

Rocket Lab’s Electron is the second-most flown American rocket, behind SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The company had previously deployed a number of spacecraft for Capella, which builds and operates a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites.