Business Time Postponed: Rocket Lab planning for new launch window
Due to a motor controller issue discovered during pre-launch checks on June 27 (NZST), Rocket Lab is standing down from this launch window for ‘It’s Business Time,’ the company’s first fully commercial mission.
During the wet dress rehearsal on June 16, all systems performed nominally. The 14-day launch window opened at 12:30 p.m. NZST (12:30 a.m. GMT) on June 23, and each day permitted a four-hour window for a launch attempt.
On the first day, the launch was scrubbed because of issues with a down-range tracking dish in the Chatham Islands, which was repaired on the second day of the window. For the next two days, there was no attempt because of unfavorable weather. It was not until the fifth day that the motor controller presented problems for this particular launch window.
This mission was originally scheduled to launch between April 20 and May 3 (NZST). When the pad team discovered unexpected behavior in the motor controller during a wet dress rehearsal, Rocket Lab pushed back the launch window so they would be able to review the data and handle the problem. A motor controller, as defined in the company’s press release, “is a device that governs commands given to selected hardware and software systems throughout the launch vehicle.”
The press release went on to note that they did analyze the issue and took “corrective measures,” but it seems the problem has returned. Thus, the company is again standing down in order to analyze and correct the problem.
“Our test program was about making it to orbit and deploying our first customer satellites. Having achieved that and moved into commercial operations, mission assurance is our focus for every customer flying on Electron,” said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. “There’s only one measure that matters in the launch industry and that’s 100 percent mission success. We’ll take some time to review the data and tweak whatever we need to ahead of a new launch window to make sure we achieve that.”
The new launch window will be announced when Rocket Lab has completed the data review.
Rae Botsford End is a freelance writer and editor whose primary work currently is writing technical white papers, contributing to SFI, and working on a speculative fiction novel that she hopes to have published soon. Rae wanted an opportunity to report on the various space-related events in and around Florida's Space Coast and approached SFI's founder about the possibility. Rae now covers an array of subjects for our growing website.