Capitalism in space? Rocket Lab reported this week that not only has its income been slashed because of New Zealand’s draconian lockdowns in fear of COVID-19, the company has had to cut its planned launches for the fourth quarter of 2021 by more than half.
“Operations have experienced disruptions due to some of the most restrictive COVID-19 measures globally, including current stay-at-home orders which prevent launch operations from taking place,” said Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, of New Zealand’s current restrictions. “Indications are that the current lockdown restrictions may ease by the end of September with the delta cases dropping in New Zealand, but this, of course, is subject to change.”
Those restrictions have delayed plans by Rocket Lab to perform three dedicated Electron launches of BlackSky satellites that had been scheduled to begin in late August. It could also affect the launch of NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar cubesat, which had been scheduled for no earlier than late October on another Electron from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
Adam Spice, chief financial officer, said that the company has five Electron launches manifested for the fourth quarter of the year, but is assuming only two launches in its financial projections. While those five launches would produce more than $40 million in revenue, the company is forecasting only $17-20 million in revenue for the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the company has not been able to launch from its new launchpad at Wallops Island in Virginia because NASA — after almost two years! — has apparently still not approved the company’s flight termination system, used to destroy a rocket that has gone out of control. NASA’s refusal to approve this system is very puzzling and very suspicious, especially because Rocket Lab has launched 21 times with it from New Zealand, and even used it several times to successfully destroy failing rockets.
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