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Sat, Nov 11, 2023

Rocket Lab Completes Anomaly Review, Announces Next Launch

Electrical Arc in Power Supply Shorted Rocket's 2nd Stage Motor Controllers

Rocket Lab USA has announced a return to launch operations after an operational pause following the loss of its 41st Electron mission in September.

The company reiterated its otherwise sterling record before announcing the results of the investigation, noting that the "anomaly occurred after 20 consecutive successful orbital missions and 37 successful Electron missions overall for government and commercial satellite operators, with 171 satellites deployed to orbit." 

The September mission failed 151 seconds into launch, in a strangely ordinary phase of flight after successful liftoff, maximum Q, and both stage separations. The anomaly has been dissected and analyzed to find that "an unexpected electrical arc occurred within the power supply system that provides high voltage to the Rutherford engine’s motor controllers, shorting the battery packs that provide power to the launch vehicle’s second stage."

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said the issue has been a running bugbear for them. "This is a highly complex, improbable, and evasive issue that the team has been relentless in investigating and fixing so we can put an even better vehicle back on the pad. We are grateful to our customers and the FAA for their continued support through this thorough investigation process. Thank you for your trust in our team. We look forward to returning to flight with corrective measures in place to provide the frequent and reliable access to orbit that the industry has come to depend on after 37 successful Electron missions."

FMI: www.rocketlabusa.com

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