'Anomaly' ends Rocket Lab launch mid-flight

An Electron rocket carrying a satellite for Capella Space experienced an anomaly mid-flight Tuesday, causing the mission to be called off. File Photo courtesy of Rocket Lab

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A Rocket Lab launch of a next-generation radar satellite for Capella Space from New Zealand on Tuesday experienced an "anomaly" minutes into its flight, ending the mission.

The issue occurred at stage separation of the two-stage Electron rocket at about 2 minutes 38 seconds after liftoff.

No explanation was given during the live telecast of the launch.

"The launch director has called an anomaly, resulting in the end of the mission. We'll share more information as it comes to hand," Rocket Lab said in a tweet.

The launch of Capella Space's synthetic aperture radar Earth-imaging satellite known as Acadia was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. NZT Tuesday from Complex 1 on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula. But with less than 8 minutes left on the countdown, a hold was put in place.

After about 15 minutes, the countdown was restarted at 14 minutes 30 seconds. After the clock ticked down to zero, the rocket launched toward low-Earth orbit with its payload, clearing Max-Q when it experiences the most pressure during its flight.

But about 90 seconds later, stage separation occurred, and the mission was called off.

The We Will Never Desert You mission was to add another next-generation SAR Earth-imaging satellite to Capella Space's constellation that the California-based company said in a statement delivers "the highest quality, high resolution SAR imagery commercially available."

It said the orbitals are capable of penetrating all weather conditions to capture clear imagery anywhere on Earth.

Capella Space has entered into a four-mission contract with Rocket Lab, with Tuesday's launch supposed to be the second under that deal. The launch was also to be Capella Space's third with Rocket Lab of 2023.

It was also to be Rocket Lab's 41 Electron rocket launch all time and ninth of the year.