Rocket Lab’s (NASDAQ: RKLB) Q3 results are out and revealed they are still looking good financially despite the launch failure that occurred in September.
During the call, it was revealed that the launch failure investigation was able to determine the cause and that they have scheduled the next launch with the window opening on November 28th and extending into December.
Rocket Lab ended Q3 with two successful launches, recoveries, the first use of a flight-proven engine, and $374 million in cash and cash equivalents.
Regarding the failure, the company announced that in the 1.6 seconds of data received from Electron, they were able to determine an electrical arc that caused power to be cut from the battery packs, a phenomenon known as “Paschen’s Law – where the ability of
electrical arcs to form is greatly exacerbated in a partial vacuum”.
Corrections are in work with the investigation to be officially closed in the coming weeks. Fixes include ensuring better insulation and fully enclosing/pressurizing the power supply system to prevent a repeat on future missions.
Looking ahead into 2024, Rocket Lab shared they have 22 launches on their current schedule with a breakdown of 9 missions that will recover the first stage, 11 standard missions, and 2 HASTE missions.
The call also yielded a few updates on the company’s Neutron rocket. The stage 2 structural & cryogenic test was completed successfully, with the test article able to withstand 7x atmospheric pressure before it was intentionally overpressurized to find the tank’s limits. The company will conduct another 2nd stage tank test in the first half of 2024.
As part of structural testing we push our tanks to Maximum Expected Operating Pressure (MEOP)…and far beyond. It’s always fun to round out an intensive test campaign with a bang!
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) October 4, 2023
The engine that will power Neutron, Archimedes, is undergoing its own tests, including combustion testing, to ensure correct ratios of methane and liquid oxygen in flight-like situations. The company is also making progress on the test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, where Archimedes will conduct full-scale engine tests.
Overall, despite the Electron launch failure, Rocket Lab looks poised to move forward with a busy 2024 and further advancements of their Neutron rocket, getting it closer to its maiden launch.
Disclosure: Richard Angle is not an RKLB shareholder.