Private spaceflight company Rocket Lab aborted a scheduled test launch of its small-scale Electron rocket yesterday, just 2 seconds before liftoff.
At the company's private launch facility in New Zealand, the countdown clock had nearly reached zero when a white puff of smoke erupted from the bottom of the Electron rocket, but the clock then stopped as the rocket failed to rise off the ground. The launch was abruptly halted at 10:50 pm EST yesterday (0350 GMT), which is 4:50 pm New Zealand Time on 12 December.
"After reviewing the telemetry and data, and time remaining in our launch window, the team has decided to wave-off for the rest of the day," Daniel Gillies, Rocket Lab's mission management and integration director, said during a live webcast on the company's website.
This comes as the second test launch of Rocket Lab's small-scale Electron rocket; the first test flight took place in May. The test which the company has named "Still Testing" has a 10-day launch window that opened on 7 December. Poor weather conditions had delayed a launch attempt until yesterday.
A new launch date has not been announced. The small payload launch company plans to follow up its maiden launch with a successful trip to orbit.
Rocket Lab is a US-headquartered company with operations in New Zealand. The company has developed Electron, a small launch vehicle. The rocket's first launch in May failed to reach orbit, which the company attributed to a telemetry error in range safety systems and not a flaw with the rocket itself.