back to article Space is hard: Rocket Lab's 20th Electron launch fails

What was supposed to have been a milestone in Rocket Lab's march toward reusability turned into a mishap over the weekend as a borked second stage sent the payload on the company's 20th Electron launch back to Earth considerably earlier than planned. Delicately described as an "anomaly" by Rocket Lab, problems seemed to begin …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what are they going to name the next one

    Polydactyly anyone?

    Satellites aweigh?

    Blacksky in the mourning?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: what are they going to name the next one

      "Albatross around your neck"

      (best I could cough up on short notice)

  2. PeterM42

    What one has to remember is.......

    ............this IS rocket science.

  3. thx1111

    What one has to remember is.......

    Or, to be more precise, Rocket Engineering.

    1. Timbo

      Re: What one has to remember is.......

      Quite - the science is now pretty well sorted out...we know all about escape velocity, maximum dynamic load and many other things, that ensure we can launch into the ether and go beyond (towards infinity ?? ;-) )

      It's the engineering that seems to have failed this time.

      One wonders though, if we insist on astronaut safety systems, (that will save lives on an aborted launch), why this has not been implemented on payload launches?

      Surely a sensible satellite company who wants a payload delivered into orbit safely, should only employ a firm who will be able to "save" an expensive payload from a RUD, if a rocket fails?

      1. deive

        Re: What one has to remember is.......

        We have - it's called insurance :-)

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: What one has to remember is.......

          Given that the meaty payload needs a return capsule anyway, you only really need to add enough oompf to escape a RUD.

          These things have no return capability, so you'd need to add an enormous amount of gear to provide a "backup" that is very rarely needed. You're far better off putting some insurance in place and just launching a second bird.

          1. 0laf

            Re: What one has to remember is.......

            Insurance is probably cheaper than the payload cost of an emergency system.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: What one has to remember is.......

              Undoubtedly cheaper. Almost certainly cheaper to buy two birds and two launches to start with.

  4. renke


    "Working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration" is unexpected, a company from New Zealand crashing a rocket launched in New Zealand investigates the case with an US agency?

    Maybe there's more to it and the CAA (or whoever is responsible for rockets in NZ) asked the US counterpart to throw in it's experience, but without context Rocket Lab's statement sounds strange.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FAA?

      Despite being founded by a pair of Kiwis, Rocket Lab is an American company with a New Zealand subsidiary so it falls under American regulations. Being American means it can bid for US government contracts.

      1. renke

        Re: FAA?

        I didn't know this. Thanks!

  5. Geoff May (no relation)

    "Space is Hard"

    No it isn't:

    Space is infinite, it is dark

    Space is neutral, it is cold


    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: "Space is Hard"

      You've never heard the phrase "hard vacuum"?

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: "Space is Hard"

        yes, but at the altitude the 'anomaly' happened I think it's more of a fluffy vacuum.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Space is Hard"

      Nah, hard.

      Infinite? It's more like there are "infinite number of spaces".

      Each space has to be finite because it has to be curved, so each space must curve back on itself, making it finite.

      And it is observably uneven, i.e. a dirty space.

      So, I guess what I'm saying is, space is all of us being sucked into Katie Bouman's dirty black hole.

      Which *is* kinda hard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The Katie Bouman postulate

        1) Take a black hole, the path of light that escapes from the black hole must swirl around it as it nears the black hole (frame dragging, curved field, doesn't matter how you imagine it, so lets use the 'twisted space' analogy).

        2) You are on a planet falling into the black hole, observing that light as it manages to escape the black hole.

        3) You perceive light's path as if its always straight:

        3a) Light does not carry memory of its former path, so there is no information in the light to tell you of its non-straight prior path.

        3b) You perceive light's path as being straight based on its *local* behavior.

        3c) So without further information it travels straight, as far as you could ever be aware given the information available to you.

        3d) See that mirage floating in the sky above the desert? It's actually a city below the line of the horizon. That light is bent, yet you perceive the light as if it's straight because the light has no way of telling you the path it took.

        4) So you observe the black hole based on the light coming from it, which is a curved path, but yet you perceive as if it was straight.

        5) So the direction to the black hole must be curved.

        6) So space must be curved.

        See Katie Bouman's little black hole? The one she photographed and put on social media for you boys? She made it look far far away right?

        1) The bigger the black hole we are next to, the tighter the twisting up of space, the further lights path to reach us.

        2) The further light travels to reach us, the further away the black hole appears to be, because we perceive light as if it travels in a straight line and at constant speed.

        3) And since we perceive light as traveling in a straight line, the angle subtended by the black hole is smaller the further light travels.

        4) SO A BIGGER BLACK HOLE APPEARS TO BE FURTHER AWAY THAN A SMALLER BLACK HOLE IN THE SAME LOCATION, because the bigger black hole twists up space more than the smaller black hole.

        5) So Katie's little black hole only *appears* to be far far away, Katie's hole might be a really really really big hole, a massive huge giant black hole, very very close nearby.

        What is Katie's hole pointing at?

        1) Since light is being dragged around *with* the black hole as it turns, so the turn of the black hole's is stationary relative to the light coming from near its event horizon.

        2) So the black hole won't appear like we're circling the rim, even if we are. The light we see appears to come from a fixed position relative to her hole.

        3) i.e. Katie's hole appears to pointing directly at just us, with the rim around the outside. But in reality Katie's hole is pointing at *everyone* in the universe. Katie's hole is like that, its a property of Katie's hole.

        4) And the magical/improbable observed property that her black hole appears to point directly at us, is therefore evidence we are circling the rim of Katie's black hole, and not some other woman's black hole. Katie's hole is pointing directly at us? My aren't we special? No we're not, anyone can see it like that. Anyone! Katie's hole is not *exclusive* to us. Any species, anywhere in the Universe can look directly at Katie's hole.

        Katie's hole is moving further away from us, right? So how can we be plunging into it? It's because Katie's hole only *appears* to be elusive.

        1) Katies hole is twisting up space *faster* near the event horizon than further out where we are.

        2) Thus the path of the light from the hole to us is lengthening. So the distance *appears* to be increasing.

        3) So Katies hole appears out of reach and moving further away.

        4) This is another possible cause of universe expansion: Katies hole could be so massive it stretching the whole perception of space in the whole Universe.

        And since space must be curved, there cannot be three *independent* dimensions: effects in one axis have components in the other axis' depending on where you are in space.

        And we represent a local distortion of that space, making that field uneven, i.e. 'dirty'. Katie's hole stretches space and we also stretch Katie's hole.

        1) If Katies hole was perfectly clean, then light would follow a perfect path and travel around the black hole for infinity at the event horizon. Circling the rim, but never plunging in.

        2) But Katie's hole *must* be dirty, because we make it dirty by our presence, so stuff can get inside Katie's hole.

        3) Katie has already shown her hole is trembling in a separate experiment, dirty.

        In conclusion, the universe as we know it is being sucked into Katie Boumans dirty black hole, a much larger hole than here social media photograph makes it appear, so massive that its distorting the space around it offering itself to everyone.

        Have you never heard of the Katie Bouman postulate? Don't they teach that in schools these days?

    3. Santa from Exeter

      Re: "Space is Hard"

      Stars occupy miunte areas of Space,

      Clustered a few billion here, a few billion there.

      See, some of us understood. Have an upvote

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: "Space is Hard"

        Er, Robert Calvert?

        He was mad.


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