Rocket Lab Launch Pushed to 2021 Due to Lack of AFTS Certification

25th Nov 2020
Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2

The Launch Complex 2 in Virginia was the chosen site for Rocket Lab’s 2020 launch. However, that has been postponed to 2021. Rocket Lab finally opened the site in 2019 and was about to complete its initial launch before the delay. 

Also, the launch has been held back due to the pandemic that rocked the world this year. Due to social distancing and other measures, the space company mission was pushed to a later date. Now that date has moved once more to 2021. 

Earlier in the year, the space company completed a rehearsal of the launch in hopes of an early take-off. The test included the firing of its first engines. Now another delay has pushed the date and the Rocket Lab launch lies in the hands of NASA

What the company needs from NASA is the certification of its AFTS (Autonomous Flight Termination System) before they can continue with the mission. It’s an integral part of the launch since it increases safety. As NASA is in charge of the launch site, getting their approval is crucial to the Rocket Lab launch. 

The good news is NASA is in the process of checking the system in order to provide the necessary certification. Since the two have a great collaboration at the Wallop launch site, working in collaboration is proving mutually beneficial. 

AFTS Development in Preparation for Rocket Lab Launch

Despite the pandemic that has brought many industries to their knees, Rocket Lab continued its work through the summer. It’s part of the reason why the date has been set for 2021 as the AFTS development is underway. Currently, in preparation for the Rocket Lab launch, engineers are working tirelessly to solve all issues affecting the AFTS. 

Though the company hasn’t released details of the issues, NASA is confident it can certify the AFTS by the first half of next year. Furthermore, the problem-free system will benefit other companies that hope to launch from the site in the future. An improved AFTS will change the industry as NASA intends to share it with other private companies. 

Upon certification, the company can accomplish its goal of post-launch recovery of its first stage. In preparation for the Rocket Lab mission, the company spokesperson confirmed that this is the last preparation stage.

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