- Rocket Lab, a private space company in New Zealand, was unable to launch seven satellites after a launch on Saturday.
- The company’s founder and CEO, Peter Beck, publicly apologized to his customers on Twitter for the loss of the space mission.
- After his Mea Culpas, Beck and Rocket Lab saw a rush of support from SpaceX’s Elon Musk and other figureheads in the space industry.
- “I’m sorry I heard about it. I hope you’ll be back in orbit soon. Rockets are hard,” Musk tweeted in response to a Beck video.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
If Apple or Google has ever launched a gadget product that failed, the last thing you can expect is that one of the two technology companies will publicly comfort the other.
When it comes to the orbital rocket industry, however, the atmosphere is far more collegial.
At the weekend, the small start-up company Rocket Lab experienced a ruinous setback: the total loss of an operational space mission worth months and millions of dollars. But instead of being silent about failure or joy, executives from space companies competing for business with the $ 1
Rocket Lab’s failed mission called Pics Or It Didn’t Happen – in line with the company’s other cheekily named flights – was the 13th attempt to orbit Electron, a six-story launch vehicle. There were seven satellites for three customers on board.
However, a few minutes after a successful launch from one of the company’s launch pads in New Zealand, the second or upper stage missile of the Electron failed. According to a live broadcast on YouTube, Rocket Lab lost the amount of satellites about 195 kilometers above the Earth – long before the spacecraft reached its target height of 310 miles and the speed required to enter orbit.
After the failure, Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, apologized publicly in two separate Twitter posts.
“We lost the flight late in the mission. I’m incredibly sorry we didn’t ship satellites to our customers today. Rest assured we’ll find the problem, fix it, and be back on the pad soon,” Beck tweeted on Saturday.
The CEO then recorded a 92-second video that Rocket Lab shared on his Twitter account the same day.
“It’s fair to say that today was a pretty tough day,” Beck said in the clip, addressing the company’s customers. “Believe me, we feel and share your disappointment. However, we will leave no stone unturned to find out exactly what happened today so that we can learn from it and safely return to the pad.” He added that “many Electron launchers” are in production and the company is “ready for a quick return to flight.”
“I hope you’ll be back in orbit soon. Rockets are hard ‘
In response to the tweets, Rocket Lab recorded a number of supportive comments, including some of its competitors.
“I’m sorry to hear about it. I hope you return to orbit soon. Rockets are hard,” tweeted Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, in response to Beck’s video.
Tory Bruno, the CEO of the United Launch Alliance, tweeted a brief but supportive message to his colleague: “Stay tuned, Peter.”
Dan Hart, the CEO of Virgin Orbit, who recently did not launch a space test mission, spoke publicly on behalf of the company.
“Peter, I wish you and the Rocketlab team all the best as you quickly find and fix the problem and continue your great success story. Dan and all of us here at Virgin Orbit,” said Hart.
Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, also spoke out for his support.
“I’m so sorry to hear that @Peter_J_Beck maintains the cadence and the great work,” Stallmer tweeted.
The startup even received a support message from Planet Labs: a company whose five Earth-based satellites accidentally lost Rocket Lab.
“Although it is never the outcome we hope for, the risk of failure to launch is a planet that Planet is always prepared for,” Planet Labs told Reuters, adding that it looks forward to resuming in the future to fly the electron.
Before failing on Saturday – the first loss of 12 missions by Rocket Lab with a customer payload on board (the first mission, a test launch in 2017, did not reach orbit) – the company planned to launch its next electronic vehicle from the Wallops Flight Facility NASA will launch in Virginia in mid to late August.
Although the engineers are investigating the cause of the recent failure, a business representative told Business Insider in an email on Monday that the loss “is likely to have a minimal impact on the schedule for our upcoming missions,” but stated that it ” was too early to give new times “. for these starts.
The representative also said that Rocket Lab’s investigation “is progressing well and we are making every effort to be back on the pad soon”.