iSpace Says Errant Piece of Foam Caused Hyperbola-1 Launch Failure

Planned booster families (Credit: i-space)

Chinese launch provider iSpace (aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Co.) says that a piece of foam insulation caused the failure of its Hyperbola-1 rocket on Feb. 1.

“The flight failure…was located at a piece of insulation foam that should have fallen off. After falling off, it fell on the No. 4 grid rudder, causing the IV grid rudder to be blocked under the action of aerodynamic pressure,” the company said in a press release. “During the flight, the rudder IV was blown down again. After the rudder IV resumed the control system to track the command, the rudder deflection angle completed a deflection of more than 30 degrees in a short time, causing a sudden change in the attitude of the arrow body, which led to the failure of the flight test.”

It is not clear what payloads were lost in the launch failure. One report indicated six small satellites were on board.

iSpace became the first nominally private Chinese company to launch satellites into orbit in July 2019. The failed Feb. 1 flight was the company’s second launch attempt.

The four-stage, solid-fuel Hyperbola-1 rocket is 24 meter (78.7 foot) tall with a diameter of 1.4 meters (4.6 feet). It can launch a 300 kg (661.4 lb) payload into a 500 km (310.7 mile) high sun synchronous orbit.