Technical Glitch Again Delays 1st Commercial Launch of Rocket Lab's Electron Booster

Rocket Lab's Electron Booster on the Pad
An Electron booster stands on the launchpad at Rocket Lab's site on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula ahead of a planned June 26, 2018, liftoff. The launch was called off because of a technical issue. (Image credit: Rocket Lab via Twitter)

Update for June 28: Rocket Lab announced today that "It's Business Time" will not launch during the planned 14-day launch window (June 22–July 6) due to an issue with the Electron rocket's motor controller. The company has not yet announced a new launch window at this time. 

Rocket Lab's Electron small-satellite launcher will have to wait a bit longer to take to the skies on its first commercial flight.

The 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron rocket was scheduled to lift off today (June 26) from Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch site, during a 4-hour window that opened at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT and 12:30 p.m. local time on June 27). But Rocket Lab called off the launch at about 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT), citing a technical issue with a key engine part.

"The team has identified an issue with the motor controller, so we're scrubbing for the day to review data. Stay tuned for updates!" Rocket Lab representatives wrote via Twitter today.

This problem has cropped up before. The Electron was originally supposed to lift off between April 20 and May 3, but California-based Rocket Lab pushed things back to investigate "unusual behavior" in a motor controller during launch prep.

Another attempt on June 22 was foiled by a tracking-system problem, and bad weather forced further delays until today's try.

The Electron, which is designed to loft small satellites relatively cheaply and efficiently, has two launches under its belt. On its maiden flight in May 2017, dubbed "It's a Test," the rocket flew naked, lofting no payloads. An Electron successfully delivered four Earth-observing satellites to orbit on the booster's second-ever mission, "Still Testing," which occurred on Jan. 21 of this year. Rocket Lab calls the upcoming mission "It's Business Time."

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.