HELSINKI — Chinese commercial launch company iSpace said Monday that an errant piece of foam insulation caused the loss of its Hyperbola-1 launch vehicle in February.
Hyperbola-1 four-stage rocket lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Feb.1, marking the second launch of a Hyperbola-1.
Bystander footage (since deleted) appeared on Chinese social media shortly after liftoff, suggesting the launcher had dramatically veered off course. Official confirmation of launch failure followed hours later.
An iSpace press release March 1 (Chinese) stated that it had completed fault location diagnosis, fault simulation and prediction, test verification and assessment and improvement measures following 28 days of investigation and analysis.
According to iSpace a piece of foam insulation, intended to fall off, struck and impeded one of four grid fins at the base of the first stage. This blockage resulted in a rapid, 30 degree roll and breakup of the launch vehicle.
The loss of the mission coincidentally followed 18 years to the day of the Columbia disaster. A piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle’s external tank during launch and damaged a wing of the Orbiter, later leading to catastrophe on reentry.
The iSpace ...