AUG 09, 2017 8:33 AM PDT

Rocket Lab Explains Why the Electron Rocket Didn't Make it Into Orbit

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Back in May, Rocket Lab hyped up the launch of their 3D-printed rocket dubbed the Electron Rocket, but things didn't quite go as expected.

The Electron Rocket that launched in May, as it sat in its hangar.

Image Credit: Rocket Lab

They aimed to put the rocket into orbit around the Earth, but despite what was otherwise a successful liftoff from a launch pad in New Zealand, the Electron Rocket just barely missed orbital altitude after reaching outer space at 139 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Rocket Lab has so far remained quiet while investigations into what botched the attempt were ongoing, but we may finally know why things didn’t go according to plan.

Rocket Lab says that while the Electron Rocket functioned exactly how the company intended it to, the problem was related to a malfunction in ground-based data monitoring equipment.

This equipment aided Rocket Lab engineers in both monitoring and controlling the Electron Rocket throughout the launch by communicating live data back and forth.

Rocket Lab blames the mishap on equipment misconfiguration, which caused a brief loss of communication after the rocket reached space. As per safety protocol, engineers terminated the launch before it could reach its destination.

“We have demonstrated Electron was following its nominal trajectory and was on course to reach orbit,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck explained of the anomaly.

“While it was disappointing to see the flight terminated in essence due to an incorrect tick box, we can say we tested nearly everything, including the flight termination system.”

Rocket Lab says the failed equipment was owned by a third-party contractor, not by the company itself.

A second Electron Rocket test launch will occur soon, but Rocket Lab hasn’t given an exact ETA for when that might happen.

The Electron Rocket is very different from rockets launched by SpaceX and other organizations. Not only is it 3D printed, but it’s also scaled down to just 55 feet tall and is 120 times more cost-efficient to launch.

These benefits spell out cost savings for companies seeking to launch smaller equipment into space without paying the high price tags associated with launching larger rockets.

Unfortunately, the Electron Rocket’s first stage doesn’t land upright after a rocket launch like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 does.

Source: The Verge

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
JUL 30, 2020
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
During a project sponsored by Space India and NASA, two schoolgirls aged 14 in the 10th grade discovered an asteroid nea ...
AUG 25, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
AUG 25, 2020
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
A new study has found that carbon-foam spacecraft could fly between Earth and Alpha Centauri, the closest planetary syst ...
OCT 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
OCT 01, 2020
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
  Researchers from Roma Tre University in Italy have confirmed the existence of four large lakes under the ice at M ...
NOV 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Observe the Birth of a Magnetar
NOV 13, 2020
Researchers Observe the Birth of a Magnetar
Scientists think they have witnessed the birth of a magnetar for the first time, when a massive burst of gamma rays took ...
NOV 20, 2020
Space & Astronomy
The Universe is Getting Hotter, not Cooler, as it Expands
NOV 20, 2020
The Universe is Getting Hotter, not Cooler, as it Expands
Up until now, scientists have theorized that as the Universe expands, its temperature has gradually declined. New resear ...
DEC 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Spiders Build Webs in Space
DEC 15, 2020
Spiders Build Webs in Space
As humans have ventured into space, they have carried some terrestrial life with them, including spiders. Once dreamed u ...
Loading Comments...