Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

Space is hard: Antares rocket failure


Today the Antares rocket on a mission to the ISS failed. The rocket was carrying our 26 Flock 1d satellites. Importantly, mission control confirmed that there are no injuries.

This was the 5th launch of the Antares rocket—and all relatively new rockets have a higher risk of explosion. While the previous launches have been successful, there is always a chance of failure—especially a system engaging in a mission as complex as rendezvous and docking with the ISS.

Space is hard and our hearts go out to our fellow space innovators on that launch: Planetary Resources Arkyd 3 and the University of Texas and JPL Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE).

Planet Labs understands the risks of launch. Our approach to mitigate these risks is to deploy our fleets of satellites on multiple launch vehicles, from multiple vendors. We also place more satellites in orbit than we require in each launch so that if satellites fail in orbit we ensure continuity.

The beauty of this approach is the very fact that this event is not catastrophic to our company. Our eggs were not all in one basket.

We’re lucky to have already launched 71 Doves in 18 months on 6 launch vehicles; an unprecedented rate of development. We have been fortunate to have these, more opportunities than most.

This mishap does not deter us from our mission!

For more information see NASA.