The deployment of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the United States has been moved to next year due to flight termination technical hitches. Rocket Lab intended to deploy the Electron rocket from Launch Complex 2 in Wallops Island. This launch site started operations at the end of last year with the deployment of the US military Space Test Program dubbed STP-27RM.
However, the deployment by Rocket Lab was delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Operations to complete the creation of the rocket also stopped as the employees and technicians went home to observe the government’s shelter-in-place measures through the ministry of health.
Rocket Lab added that the delay is due to NASA’s time-consuming process to authenticate the autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) that will guide the direction of the rocket. NASA has the authority to manage the launch distance for all the operations at the Wallops Flight Facility. The CEO of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, stated that the authentication process has been long prompting the company to push the launch date to next year.
Beck added that the authentication process is continuing since the agency must ensure the weather conditions are favorable before they launch any mission. NASA’s chief of operations at the Wallops facility, David Pierce, explained that they are following all the operating procedures to ensure the mission is safe for both Earth’s inhabitants and does not leave debris in space.
Pierce explained that they finished developing the rocket and other components on time without considering the outbreak of the pandemic. The chief executive explained that their review team identified discrepancies within the software installed on the mission’s system heading. Katherine Johnson of the Independent Verification and Validation Facility and other teams were instrumental in this review.
The rocket engineers are resolving this problem to ensure they have a new code before the next launch period. Katherine explained that the software’s reformulation would be ready hopefully before the fast half of next year.
Beck explained that this technology is vital for developing future models, making them pay keen attention to originality. This technology’s successful implementation of this program will allow Rocket Lab to channel it to the private industry for more benefits and advancement.
To conclude, Rocket Lab’s Morgan Bailey revealed that they would have finished setting up the software in time to authenticate the launch range by NASA for the mission to proceed. The spokesperson added that their primary objective is to evaluate the possibility of reusing the first stage of the Electron by recovering it from the mission.