Anniversary launch of the Electron rocket ends in an accident

The launch of the Electron small rocket, which took place on September 19, ended in an accident. It led to the loss of the carrier and payload.

The Electron rocket with the Capella Space satellite. Source: Rocket Lab

The Electron rocket was launched by Rocket Lab as part of the We Will Never Desert You mission. Its goal was to launch the Acadia-2 satellite into a 635-kilometer near-Earth orbit for the needs of Capella Space. The spacecraft was equipped with a synthetic-aperture radar designed to take pictures of the Earth’s surface. The images taken by such satellites are actively used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to repel Russian aggression.

This was the third joint mission of Rocket Lab and Capella Space in 2023. In March and August, Electron successfully launched the company’s satellites into orbit. But the third flight followed a completely different scenario.

After turning on the engines, Electron began to rise. The first stage of the rocket fully worked out its section, and then separated from the rocket. Judging by the footage of the live broadcast, after that the Electron did not turn on the engine of the second stage. Soon the controllers announced an anomaly, after which the broadcast stopped. Both the rocket and the satellite were lost, falling into the Pacific Ocean.

The reasons for not turning on the second-stage engine at Electron are unknown. But this is not the first such incident. A similar accident occurred in 2021.

It is also worth noting that the accident occurred during the anniversary fortieth orbital launch of the Electron rocket. At the moment, its flight statistics are as follows: 36 missions were successful, 4 ended in failures.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time