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Long Beach's Future In Space
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LB HQ'd Rocket Lab (Again) Successfully Retrieves Rocket's First Stage Using Parachute Slowed Spashdown; Computer May Have Shut Down Second Stage, Causing Lost Mission



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(May 17, 2021, 12:05 p.m.) -- Long Beach headquartered Rocket Lab (for a second time) successfully retrieved its Electron rocket's first stage using a parachute slowed splashdown as its engineers investigate an anomaly shortly after second stage ignition that caused engine shut down, resulting in loss of the mission

In a release, Rocket Lab (officed in ELB's Douglas Park) says it continued to receive good telemetry from the New Zealand-launched Electron rocket following the safe engine shutdown on stage two, "providing engineers with comprehensive data to review as part of a robust review into the anomaly. The extensive data is being methodically scoured to enable the review team to accurately pinpoint the issue and implement corrective actions for future missions. Rocket Lab is leading the flight review with the support of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); a structure that ensures Rocket Lab maintains a high degree of control over its return-to-flight schedule."

Preliminary data reviews suggest an engine computer detected an issue shortly after stage 2 engine ignition, causing the computer to command a safe shutdown as it is designed to do. The behavior had not been observed previously during Rocket Labís extensive ground testing operations, which include multiple engine hot fires and full mission duration stage tests prior to flight. The vehicle remained within the pre-determined safety corridor during the flight. The full review is expected to be complete in the coming weeks and Rocket Lab anticipates a swift return to flight.

"We deeply regret the loss of BlackSkyís payload and we are committed to returning to flight safely and reliably for our customers," said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive, Peter Beck. "We are methodically working through the review process to address the issue. After 17 successful missions and more than 100 satellites deployed to orbit prior to this mission, and with multiple launch vehicles currently in production, we are confident in a swift and reliable return to flight with minimal impact on our launch manifest this year."

Flight data shows Electronís first stage performed nominally during the mission and did not contribute to the flight issue. The first stage safely completed a successful splashdown under parachute as planned and Rocket Labís recovery team retrieved the stage from the ocean for transport back to Rocket Labís production complex as part of the companyís reusability test program. The new heat shield debuted in this flight protected the stage from the intense heat and forces experienced while re-entering Earthís atmosphere and the program took yet another major advancement towards reusability of the rocket. The engines remain in good condition and Rocket Lab intends to put them through hot fire testing for analysis. Selected components from the recovered stage are also suitable for reflight on future missions. Rocket Labís program to make Electron a reusable launch vehicle is advancing quickly and the company intends to conduct its third recovery mission later this year.

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In addition to Rocket Lab, Long Beach is home to other pioneering enterprises in satellite launches and related fields.

Virgin Orbit (also in Douglas Park) launches satellites using a rocket ("Launcher 1") carried and deployed from beneath the firm's specially equipped jet ("Cosmic Girl.")

A bit west in another ELB industrial park, Relativity is now developing a printed rocket.

And Space X will be using a portion of the Port of Long Beach's Pier T as a marine terminal to dock vessels and offload equipment as part of west coast rocket recovery operations

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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