A rocket from small-satellite launch firm Rocket Lab failed to reach orbit minutes after a successful liftoff from New Zealand on Saturday, the company said, losing its payload of seven small satellites it had meant to carry to space.
Every rocket has a failure at some point and this probably "hurts our pride more than anything", said Rocket Lab co-founder and chief executive Peter Beck of today's mission failure - the company's first after 12 successful flights.
I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers satellites today.
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"This is something that we always prepare for but never want to experience but we have lots of vehicles in production and we are ready for rapid return to flight as soon as these investigations are complete".
Despite locating its headquarters in New Zealand, Rocket Lab lists itself as an American company and specialises in delivering small satellites to Earth's lower orbit.
The launch included a 67-kilogramme earth-imaging satellite for Canon Electronics to photograph objects on the ground as small as 90 centimetres wide.
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Launch video cut off around six minutes after liftoff during the live stream, and rocket was subsequently shown to be falling from its current altitude before the web stream was cut short. Rocket Lab then revealed via Twitter that the Electron vehicle was lost during the second stage burn, and committed to sharing more information when it becomes available. "We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron".
Rocket Lab lost an electron rocket.
"As a result, the payloads onboard Electron were not deployed to orbit. Rocket Lab is working closely with the FAA to investigate the anomaly and identify its root cause to correct the issue to move forward".
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"We know many people poured their hearts and souls into those spacecraft. This unprecedented dataset helps researchers, students, businesses and governments discover patterns, detect early signals of change, and make timely, informed decisions".