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Rocket Lab bases failure of electron launch on electrical problems

On July 31, Rocket Lab said an inquiry found that an abnormal electrical link triggered an Electron rocket launch to fail almost four weeks earlier when the agency plans on returning to flight in August. The organization also formed an independent board of investigation into injuries. Partnering with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found that the defective connection contributed to the sudden breakdown of the engine many minutes after New Zealand July 4 (U.S. time) in the second phase of the Electron.

The electrical connection problem caused a power loss for many devices, including the electrical turbopumps which power the engine. Because of low electrical power to the heat motors, the engine shut down. Rocket Lab said the interaction was that intermittently stable during the startup, causing electrical resistance that led to electrical component heating and thermal expansion. It eventually caused the overall electrical network to disconnect, causing the shutdown.

No other Electron flights that flew 728 of such components had seen the concern. Rocket Lab also said the problem is undetectable in pre-launch tests, but after the crash, engineers were capable of reproducing it in experiments with similar components.

Beck said that’s a very peculiar thermal problem. He further reiterated that although it’s subtle and tricky, it’s reasonably simple to screen and calculate it when you understand it. The failure didn’t seem to affect the telemetry and instrumentation of the level, which could continue to provide data well after the engine lost control. Telemetry is usually a network that you want significant redundancy. Beck also said that the telemetry network is the very last network you would want to go down, and they have several redundancies on that.

Nonetheless, he also said significant technical adjustments to the rocket are not planned, such as raising redundancy for that power system. The actual system with which this connects to is very robust and does not merit a change of design since it’s not a critical mistake.

He said the business used the malfunction to search for other procedural changes to try to achieve internal performance. They made a huge step back and looked through the entire vehicle, and as a consequence, we made a bunch of alterations to work directions and signs of quality. 

In conclusion, Rocket Lab intends to restart the New Zealand Electron launches in August. The firm did not reveal the target or the consumer for that project, but Beck said the organization would announce this in the coming days. Rocket Lab would then conduct its first release from Launch Complex 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia, after that return-to-flight attempt. Beck stated he wants to return to a monthly release tempo for the remainder of the year, or maybe more regularly.