ABL’s RS1 Rocket Fails on Maiden Flight

RS1 booster on the launch pad. (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

ABL Space’s RS1 rocket failed shortly after liftoff from its launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Tuesday, the company said.

“After liftoff, RS1 experienced an anomaly and shut down prematurely. The team is working through our anomaly response procedures in coordination with PSCA and the FAA,” the company tweeted. “This is not the outcome we were hoping for today, but one that we prepared for. We’ll revert with additional information when available. Thanks to all for the support.”

RS1 is a two-stage rocket designed to launch payloads weighing 1,350 kg (2,976 lb) into low Earth orbit. The booster is designed to be transported in shipping containers and launched with minimal setup.

The rocket was carrying a pair of VariSat technology demonstration satellites designed to provide high frequency marine data communications.

It was the second failure of a small satellite launcher in 24 hours. On Monday, a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne booster failed to place nine satellites into orbit after the rocket was air launched from its Boeing 747 carrier plane off the southern coast of Ireland. The flight originated from Spaceport Cornwall in England.