Rocketlab’s Electron Rocket Fails on 13th Launch.

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You know I’ve heard it’s Bad luck to be superstitious, so let’s just ignore the number right?
Rocketlab’s latest mission was called ‘Pics or it Didn’t Happen’ and we didn’t get pictures of it reaching orbit. Instead the video cut out and the second stage fell back to earth, likely breaking up due to reentry forces. Very little information is available right now, but this covers what we know.

Comments:
  1. mozkito life

    You need to extract altitude (Y) data over time (X) by pausing the video at regular intervals to detect when thrust was interrupted. Plot that and see when the curve’s gradient significantly shifted because they say 4 minutes and if you’re shooting up that fast, altitude will continue to rise for a while after but the rate will change.

  2. Cryshalo

    Damn! Awful to hear. Best of luck discovering the issue, RL.

  3. La Providencia Electrica

    Thank you Scott.

  4. victor 007

    I stopped watching like 30 seconds before this happened.

  5. random

    I hope those electric pumps keep getting developed until we can buy them on eBay

  6. RobertWerden

    The video shows the attitude slightly change when the decal started catching air. Maybe the rocket pitched and that contributed.

  7. Jamie C

    WELP, Guess that’s 1 less super space camera spying on us lol

  8. CMB

    They will learn from this and become more reliable.

  9. Hendrik Hendrikson

    I’m 100% sure when it came to assigning numbers someone said “Should we use #13?”.
    Also it’s pretty sure someone else said, of course, it’s just superstition.
    Alright #13 it is.

  10. eFeXuy

    Well if there was a drop in voltage is reasonable they cut the video feed so they can have power to keep collecting data from the onboard computer

  11. frankthespank

    I know what happened: It broke.

  12. Christopher Bloom

    Scott Do you know when Rocket lab will try to grab a first stage in mid air?

  13. WheelmanGames

    When you name your rocket PICS. or some variant of that name. You chance the MEME Fates ya Boomers!!!

  14. christian gibson

    Great analysis on the basis of the limited information available. After listening to this is sounds like the fuel combustion died out…. the fuel flow must have somehow failed. Since the fuel flow is powered by the batteries, Scott Manley’s suggestion that it may have been an electrical fault sounds quite convincing?

  15. Guillaume Jobin

    As always, nice video Scott!

  16. Adam Wishneusky

    I love your investigations!

  17. Dave McDonald

    Look at replay around max q looked like a gimbel flight vector correction.

  18. Otrab

    We need one crucial data point for this anomaly: TTSMV (Time To Scott Manley Video)

  19. MrNomadic76

    Damn you Testlite!!

  20. Madhuntr

    that was the most expensive 4th of july fireworks.

  21. rsanjur

    Well!! Guess it didn’t happen after all!
    Thanks! Was waiting for this video! Kinda weird not seeing many companies pursuing stage recoveries…

  22. Animation Space

    It all started from the jynx with “Don’t stop me now”.

  23. That Guy

    I wish them luck on their next launch, they’ve done so well

  24. FH - Side Booster

    They can just go on with their launch scheduele, you’ve no chance against the power of the 13.

  25. Geoff Johnson

    Maybe electrons do decay after-all.

  26. Sanchit Rastogi

    Looks like it didn’t happend at all, since we don’t have the pics 🤷‍♂️

  27. Emma Beyer

    Right when the camera cut out and the telemetry just started to tick by, I knew that it was gone… such a shame, but failure only leads to further success.

  28. Tyler Jordan

    Great report, thank you Scott!

  29. Alex Wright

    You should do a video on Gilmour Space’s new hybrid rocket that they’re developing to fly in the next year or so

  30. Chris Muncy

    Good morning Scott. Great video as always. I have a future video idea for you based on this one: How about a video discussing insuring rockets and payloads and how that all works? I know it’s not like car insurance lol.

  31. mVm MotoVlogMusic

    1st time I see a launch fail on the 2nd stage.
    Thanks for analysis Scott.
    Hoping Rocketlabs figures it out quick and gets right back “on the horse”. Thank You Peter Beck for your transparency and all else you do.

  32. Java Man

    The camera was glitching during the whole flight. At least that one component was having electrical issues. Maybe something vibrated loose during launch.

  33. 4OTKO

    Wow, this is a very compact rocket that can fly into space

  34. Barry Soetoro

    Look at the huge amount of wind sheer just as it goes above the clouds. I wonder if that bumped stuff around causing the failure.

  35. 5Andysalive

    The description at 2:00 gives me bad early KSP PTSD.

  36. Isaac James Tea

    Scott can you do a short video on what happens to the payload when rockets fail, i.e. who covers the cost? Insurance? The launch company? Do they rebuild the satellite again with plan to re-launch?
    Thanks!

  37. Mal-2 KSC

    The front fell off.

  38. Bear Lemley

    Great coverage of the Event !
    Great Scott !

  39. PageMonster

    “payload not deployed to orbit” = Burnt to a crisp on re-entry.

  40. Dan W

    My evolving theory is that a wire got loose on the second or third battery, perhaps during the corkscrew maneuver, and that the first battery was doing all the work, and struggling. Then, when the hot swap executed, it switched from a low battery to a no-battery situation.

  41. David Bierbaum

    In looking at the decal video segment, is it my imagination, or did the decal start inflating from the center long before it started peeling off?

  42. tcb268

    “Auckland, we have a problem here”

  43. Usmazenec

    Always the best “misson breakdown” by Scott

  44. RandomUser311

    Maybe a power-system fail-safe shut down non-essential systems like the cameras/video transmission as a response to the ‘issue’.

  45. Royall Clark

    Too bad really…. Love watching this company do their thing!! Thanks for a great report Scott

  46. Kineticartist

    thats rough my sincere condolences to RL

  47. Bruce Baxter

    my guess is hot swap had a hiccup

  48. Whole Nuts And Donuts

    Soon as I saw the failure I was like Scott will have some info for us tomorrow. You don’t disappoint. Hope you have a great 4th celebration!

  49. Matthew Boggs

    They called out hot swap in 30 seconds about 30 seconds before the failure. My guess the battery died and was not able to hot swap.

  50. - DiveDog350

    Great video Scott, always factual and interesting.

  51. Deon Hamilton

    Yeah he keeps saying hot swap any time then power went off on video at the same time as rocket lost power and started losing altitude, even thru the new battery showed full power i dont think the connection was successful, from what i understand is the old battery is ejected once the new battery takes over to save weight

  52. telnx

    Someone forgot to charge the batteries:’)

  53. Van

    i don’t know what you’re all talking about, it didn’t happen

  54. Jeff Maker

    I was waiting for this since I saw the stream

  55. Provisional IRA Member

    Damn, I was going to watch the first stream before it got delayed, then I couldn’t catch the next one.

  56. Jonathan Rabe

    You provide the absolute best in space news! And I love how you stick to facts and don’t go into the opinionated side of things :)

  57. S1NB4D

    Yup lucky number 13 and an expensive 4th of july firework for america.

  58. Deepfield

    Anyone have any idea about where and when the 2nd stage would have re-entered the atmosphere?

  59. Ommy

    It failed because of all the clean room personal wearing masks below their nose, the unfiltered nose air ruined it.

  60. Maarten Goemans

    watched it live yesterday. quickly realized it was wrong. gtz from the Netherlands

  61. Gary Hall

    You’re up late – Thanks for all the insights you share!

  62. John Hanson

    Similar systems I have worked with have a planned load shedding feature where if available power becomes less than nominal, non-essential loads are shed first. Video might be low priority relative to mission? Pure speculation.

  63. jblue 1018

    13 has had a bad reputation in spaceflight.

  64. Nilstrieb

    0:39 that’s nice to hear, so the payload could have been worse

  65. Lego Technic Mastery

    1.1 M subs ! I’ve been watching you for years, And pleased to hear that same end music every time! Gladly your content is still top notch too ;)
    Have a nice day, fellow!

  66. gabsr

    The telemetry is measuring real rocket values? I thought it was of the simulation running at the same time.
    I wonder if spaceX does that too

  67. Faizan Badar

    Expecting this video :D

  68. Richard Shipp

    I was watching the feed, and coming up on second separation, I noticed altitude falling. Then the feed cut.

  69. Henry

    5:30 this is why I’m subbed great work as always!

  70. Muhammad T

    4:30am here…the power is out…but I damn sure will use my hotspot to watch smexy Scott Manley.

  71. Backyard Ballistics

    Somebody forgot to charge the third battery😂

  72. Philip Larkin

    was waiting for this since stream thanks Scott :)

  73. Eduardo Fuentes

    Gotta say, that take off site is beautiful.

  74. J Shepard

    “Auckland, we’ve had a problem.”
    “Say again, 13?”

  75. Sagamir

    Well I would suspect that the telemetry has its own backup power. The video and the video feed is not as critical so it would drop first, when the batteries go low.

  76. bazoo513

    Nice and thorough, as always. _This_ is the kind of “informed speculation” I like (while we wait for complete information).

  77. Adam Greenhaus

    It said, “If you push the my launch forward to July 4th, I’m gonna be a firework.”

  78. 杜恒宇Toh Heng Yu

    Hopefully this will make the electron even more reliable!

  79. John Tillis

    gosh my dream is to get to work on something like this. As a composite technician that has been obsessed with space since I was a kid I would love to get to work on the rocket that doesn’t fail.

  80. Jakob CS

    watched it live. so sad to see it stop accelerating :(

  81. PMB-NZ

    I wonder if the telemetry data system have it’s only short-term power backup so that if main power is lost they still get data, but video looking out the back may not be as important. Maybe the next one should have a selfie stick attached :)

  82. Ledmaster

    Electrical fault. Mosfet electrical regulation system failed during battery synchronization prior to hotswap. Hotswap didn’t happen correctly as power began to decay thrust decayed correspondingly due to turbopump slowing down from lost amps.

    The problem is electrical in nature. Battery switching system on electron is very complex.

  83. IrishTidePods

    why so late, now i have to be up even longer

  84. Paul Haynes

    This flight felt wrong from the start (and I didn’t even know it was the 13th!). First there was the need to bring the launch forward by a day – never a good idea. Then the video kept freezing (we’ve seen a dozen of these flights, all (I think) without video problems). Then the decal started to peel off – ok, not a critical part, but have you ever seen this happen before? Perhaps an indication that things were rushed?

    But the real clincher was Tim Dodd reassuring us that everything was ok and there was nothing to worry about!

    (Whilst at the same time being the only one not to notice that the rocket was slowing and dropping!)

  85. Antonio Maglione

    Thanks for the update Mr. Manley.
    As a gut feeling, after decades of working with batteries, I’m thinking their loss of thrust being caused by the pump failing to operate because the last battery called the day prematurely.
    Those battery are interfaced to the loads via some complex interfaces, controlling and memorising all the power going in and out the battery, considering the curves of charge / discharge, temperature profile, the load profile, and other personalised parameters. These control electronics use a variety of sensors and transducers, all subject to a range of failures. The supervising software is not always up to the task of discerning a true system malfunction from a sensor glitch.
    At last, the battery itself could have had a manufacturing defect: consider that the only way to truly test a battery is… Discharging it in full, this is why in my designs I always used rechargeable batteries even for single use equipment, and many others still do the same.
    Again, thanks…

  86. Dave Krüger

    I think the nozzle isn’t getting dimmer there, I think that’s just the exposure changing as more of the earth comes into the picture.

  87. Mark Wandrey

    They also kept saying “hot swap any time” after when it should have happened. If the rocket successfully moved power to the onboard battery, but the two outboards didn’t drop, they could have either dragged it down (explaining the yaw) as well as consumed too much energy (all that weight isn’t gone), and/or also became sort of a parasitic drain themselves as the computer tried to balance power with two dead batteries still in the circuit.
    Like Scott said, hopefully the telemetry is sufficient to perform a post mortem.

  88. Gean Ozz

    Someone forgot to plug in the charger……common problem : )

  89. Baxter Johnson-Ronald

    Electron didn’t fly safe.

  90. Rob

    What was happening around passing Max-Q?
    Was that just a sheet of air with different wind direction as we sometimes see during launches of other rockets as well, or was it kind of losing control there?

  91. DonGotti

    1:27 when your dog scares you by licking your foot in the dark when you’re recording the narration for your video 😂😂😂😂

  92. ifell3

    I would have thought video was less important than telemetry, so possibly on a different frequency.
    Space doesn’t need a Friday before 13 to make it unlucky 🤣
    Who pays for the cargo?

  93. CeeJay01

    I watched this live, and I noticed that unlike previous Electron launches, the video feed was intermittent: it kept freezing for a second or two then resuming. Maybe there was a problem with that antenna, which caused the video to cut out while the telemetry kept going.

  94. TechyBen

    I use to do sign writing in college. If they want someone to put the decal back on…

    Seems a lot of the hints hint at an electric failure. Perhaps it could output enough volts/amps for the telemetry, but not for the pumps/video/control systems?

  95. SUNGEAR59

    i always feel for the satellite builders who in some cases spend years building and scratching funds together like with universities and small companies ! Don’t know how insurance works but they don’t get reimbursed for the thousands of man hours

  96. TMA1

    Host after loss of video feed: lets switch over to Mission Control for the rest of the broadcast…
    Next several minutes: silence of tumbleweed and operators chewing fingernails …
    Me: Mahia we have a problem :(

  97. Carl Hansen

    The “Automatic Flight Termination System” cuts either electrical power to the engine or to the flight computer when it is triggered. Which would explain both the video loss and engine shutdown which occurred at the same time. Also the video stream from the rocket started a pattern of freezing even few seconds after the rocket passed the 5 km attitude

  98. Harold Weaver Smith

    If they have a power-management system that progressively cuts off non-essential loads when the bus is pressure, then I’d expect the camera to be much nearer the top of the ‘cut list’ than the telemetry. That might explain why the telemetry continued past the loss of picture.

  99. Dave Lewthwaite

    “Don’t stop me now” was stopped. “pics or it didn’t happen” didn’t give us pics.
    If Peter announces “Not blowing up the planet”, someone nuke NZ immediately. Yes, I’m on it, but I’ll take the hit.

  100. G4l4xɛɛ

    Just saying, “Don’t Stop Me Now” got delayed, and “Pics or it Didn’t Happen” failed. At this point, saying “Let’s Fail this Rocket” could work

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