Rocket Lab Receives Federal Aviation Administration Authorization to Resume Launches
Long Beach, California. October 25, 2023 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume Electron launches from Launch Complex 1.
The authorization comes after Rocket Lab experienced an in-flight anomaly on September 19th during the Company’s 41st Electron launch. The FAA, the federal licensing body for U.S. launch vehicles, has now confirmed that Rocket Lab’s launch license remains active, which is the first step to enable launches to resume. Rocket Lab is now finalizing a meticulous review into the anomaly’s root cause, a process that involves working through an extensive fault tree to exhaust all potential causes for the anomaly, as well as completing a comprehensive test campaign to recreate the issue on the ground. The FAA is providing oversight of Rocket Lab’s mishap investigation to ensure Rocket Lab complies with its FAA-approved mishap investigation plan and other regulatory requirements. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was granted official observer status to the investigation. The full review is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, with Rocket Lab currently anticipating a return to flight later this quarter with corrective measures in place.
During the September 19th mission, Electron completed a successful lift-off, first stage burn and stage separation as planned, before an issue was experienced at around two and a half minutes into flight shortly after second stage engine ignition. Flight data shows Electron’s first stage performed as expected during the mission and did not contribute to the anomaly.
“After more than 40 launches, Electron is a proven, mature design with a well-established manufacturing process behind it, so we knew the fault was going to be something complex and extremely rare that hasn’t presented in testing or flight before,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Our investigation team with FAA oversight has worked around the clock since the moment of the anomaly to uncover all possible root causes, replicate them in test, and determine a path for corrective actions to avoid similar failure modes in future. We look forward to sharing the details of the review once it is fully complete ahead of returning to flight.”
Electron is the second most frequently launched U.S. launch vehicle annually, relied upon by government and commercial satellite operators globally. Prior to the September 19 mission, Electron had completed 20 consecutive successful orbital launches and 37 successful missions total, deploying 171 satellites to orbit.
+ Rocket Lab Media Contact
+ About Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier, and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform, and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 171 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a third launch pad in Virginia. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
+ Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements contained in this press release other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding our launch and space systems operation, launch schedule and window, safe and repeatable access to space, Neutron development, operational expansion and business strategy are forward-looking statements. All statements contained in this press release other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding our launch and space systems operation, launch schedule and window, safe and repeatable access to space, Neutron development, operational expansion, business strategy, and expectations relating to our financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives and future performance are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “potential,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “strategy,” “future,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “target,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, though not all forward-looking statements use these words or expressions. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to the factors, risks and uncertainties included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and the Investor Relations section of our website at www.rocketlabusa.com, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change.