The American launch company that launches its missiles outside New Zealand has lost its last mission.
Rocket Lab has stated that its Electron vehicle failed late in its ascent from the Mahia peninsula on the North Island.
All satellite payloads are assumed to have been destroyed.
These included imaging spacecraft from Canon Electronics of Japan and Planet Labs Inc of California, as well as a technology demonstration platform from a British start-up called In-Space Missions.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck apologized to his customers.
“I am incredibly sorry that we were unable to deliver our customers’ satellites today. Rest assured that we will find the problem, correct it, and return to the pad soon,” he said on Twitter.
Rocket Lab has seated everyone in the space sector since its Electron vehicle debuted in 2017. It is leading a wave of new equipment that wants to operate compact rockets to serve the emerging small satellite market.
Saturday’s take-off from New Zealand was the 13th Electron release to date. All previous launches had been completely successful, except the first one that failed to reach its intended orbit.
What went wrong this time is unclear. The video footage showed the rocket’s second stage engine running normally for six minutes in flight, at an altitude of 192 km and a speed of 3.8 km / s. The video feed has crashed.
The main payload on board was a Canon Electronics satellite, part of a series that the company is producing to reproduce the features on the ground smaller than one meter in size.
Planet, which operates the largest in-orbit spacecraft network, was attempting to support five of its latest iterations of satellites. Since the San Francisco company manufactures and launches so many spacecraft, it will recover more easily from this failure.
But for the start of missions in space, the loss of the electron is a big disappointment. Its Faraday-1 platform was to be the showcase for the company’s new service.
Faraday-1 was a kind of “car pooling” satellite that allowed third parties to fly payloads into orbit without the obligation to build and finance an entire spacecraft. They just had to rent a “seat” with In-Space.
The European aerospace giant Airbus had even taken a slot in Faraday-1 to test new radio technology. Called Prometheus, this equipment was supposed to conduct radio frequency detection, scanning the globe for distress signals and military radar activities.
Borden, Hampshire-based In-Space tweeted, “The In-Space team is absolutely gutted by this news. Two years of hard work by an incredibly committed team of genius engineers in smoking. It was really a cool little spaceship “.
Future missions are already in production.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @BBCAmos