Rocket Lab to resume launches this month after flight failure

Rocket Lab is set to resume launches this month after today receiving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

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The company’s lost vehicle is not an uncommon occurrence, says Rocket Lab co-founder and CEO Peter Beck. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after the New Zealand-based aerospace manufacturer identified a faulty electrical connection which caused its 13th Electron flight to fail early last month, Rocket Lab said today in a statement.

The next launch is scheduled for later this month from Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, with corrective measures already underway, Rocket Lab says.

A joint investigation with the FFA found the launch failure on July 4 was likely caused by a "single anomalous electrical connection".

"This connection was intermittently secure through flight, creating increasing resistance that caused heating and thermal expansion in the electrical component," Rocket Lab says.

"This caused the surrounding potting compounds to liquefy, leading to the disconnection of the electrical system and subsequent engine shutdown."

The problem wasn't detected before the flight as the connection "remained secure during standard environmental acceptance testing including vibration, thermal vacuum, and thermal cycle tests."

According to Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck, they haven't seen the issue before with any of their 12 Electron launches.

“The issue occurred under incredibly specific and unique circumstances, causing the connection to fail in a way that we wouldn’t detect with standard testing," Mr Beck says.

"Our team has now reliably replicated the issue in test and identified that it can be mitigated through additional testing and procedures.

"Prior to the anomaly we had deployed 53 customer payloads to orbit without fail. Returning to the pad with an even more reliable vehicle for our mission partners is our top priority.”

More details about the upcoming launch will be revealed at a later date, Rocket Lab says.