07/06/2020 - 20:54
Due to the detailed pre-launch controls and the months of planning that each mission requires, accidents in the aerospace sector are less and less strident. And those that occur, such as the recent explosion of the SpaceX Starship SN4 prototype or the mismatches of the Soyuz MS-10, which had to return to Earth without the astronauts, are within the predictable. That is why it is striking that, within 5 minutes of its launch, a Rocket Lab rocket - a small firm ready to make the leap to the big leagues - has lost all contact with the control base .
The commercial Electron rocket was transporting seven satellites in its holds and without suggesting that a fatality was looming, the image on the control room screen was cut for a few moments, after taking off this Saturday from a launch pad on the peninsula Mahia in New Zealand. The details were only released this Monday.
"The signal was lost , " was what Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, managed to say when the transmission line with the spacecraft was abruptly interrupted. The rocket was carrying satellites for the companies Spaceflight, Canon Electronics, Planet and In -Space Missions.
Video footage showed that the rocket's second-stage engine operated normally when the clock struck 5 minutes and 40 seconds in flight, at an altitude of 192 km and at a speed of 3.8 km / s. It was at this point that the video froze.
The Faraday-1 satellite, from the British firm In-Space Missions, which housed multiple instruments from new companies
"We missed the flight when we were well advanced in the mission," Beck tweeted.
The mission, which was the 13th launch of the company's payload, had been christened "Show the photos, or it didn't happen." Through a statement, on Monday the company acknowledged having experienced an "anomaly" and that it is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States to identify the cause.
"I am very sorry that today we were unable to deliver our customers' satellites. Rest assured that we will find the problem, correct it and return to the platform soon," Beck said.
The main payload on board was Canon Electronics' CE-SAT-IB satellite , designed to demonstrate Earth imaging technology with high-resolution, wide-angle cameras. The rocket also carried five Planet company SuperDove satellites, designed to obtain perspective images of Earth.
The latest payload was a small satellite called Faraday-1, from British firm In-Space Missions, which housed multiple instruments from startups and other organizations that needed a trip to space.
Before the failure, Rocket Lab announced that it planned to launch monthly launches for the remainder of this year and during 2021. Such missions include launches by the United States Space Force and NASA. Its sponsors include US companies Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures, and Data Collective.
The company's purpose is to reduce the cost of sending shoebox-sized satellites into low Earth orbit , build smaller rockets, and reinvent traditional production lines to meet growing demand for payload.
The company's ambitious plans included becoming the first private company to orbit the Moon . For this purpose, they designed the Electron rocket, which was mysteriously lost, capable of transporting the Photon space vehicle, which is in the last stages of calibration, inside.
In the long term, Rocket Lab claims to be able to send small satellites beyond the Moon. To compete with SpaceX, it aspired to reach Mars and even Venus. And, according to its engineers, it only takes minor modifications to your rocket to do so.