Not quite business time: Rocket Lab delays next Electron launch
Unusual behavior in a motor controller has prompted the delay of the next flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron launcher. During the wet dress rehearsal for the mission dubbed “It’s Business Time,” the pad operations team found the anomaly.
The company is currently reviewing data regarding the issue. The rocket, originally scheduled to lift off sometime between April 20 and May 3, 2018, has been moved to the next launch window. Rocket Lab has not said exactly when that would be and only tweeted that it would be “in a few weeks.”
“With just days between rehearsal and window opening, the call to move to the window is a conservative one made to allow the team additional time to review data,” reads a statement on Rocket Lab’s website.
Rocket Lab was founded by Peter Beck in 2006 to serve the small satellite community. It’s primary vehicle is the Electron rocket, an all-carbon-composite, two-stage launcher. At nearly 57 feet (17 meters) tall and four feet (1.2 meters) in diameter, the booster is capable of placing some 500 pounds (250 kilograms) into a 310-mile (500-kilometer) Sun-synchronous Earth orbit. The company says nearly all of the components of the Electron are manufactured in-house, including the frame, engines and avionics.
Electron is powered by a total of ten Rutherford engines. The first stage consists of a nine engine cluster of the oxygen/kerosene pump-fed engines. The second stage is propelled by a single engine optimized for operation in a vacuum. Each use unique high-performance electric propellant pumps that help reduce mass.
The company has launched two Electron rockets so far. The first flight, dubbed “It’s a Test,” completed second stage and fairing separations but was destroyed by range safety when telemetry with the vehicle was lost. The second flight, “Still Testing,” successfully deployed multiple CubeSats for Spire Global and Planet Labs. Those missions occurred in May 2017 and January 2018 respectively.
“It’s Business Time” will be Rocket Lab’s first fully commercial mission.
Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.