This is an unexpected development for Rocket Lab, which has flown 11 uneventful consecutive Electron missions since the beginning of its program.
Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck posted an apology to Twitter, noting that all satellites were lost, and that he's "incredibly sorry" to all customer who suffered loss of payload today.
"We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron".
Founder Peter Beck has also apologised and said the company will find out what the issue was, "correct it and be back on the pad soon".
But the mission ended in a devastating failure that saw Rocket Lab lose both its rocket and the cannon as well as the rest of the payload it was carrying.
The rocket also carried five Earth-imaging satellites designed by the company Planet, and one small satellite, the Faraday-1, designed by the In-Space Missions start-up. The broadcast then showed that the rocket began losing speed and altitude and several minutes later the live feed stopped.
The launch itself went off without a hitch, followed by the first-stage burn and stage separation. Electron remained within the predicted launch corridors and caused no harm to personnel or the launch site. "An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab's launch that caused the loss of the vehicle", said in a Tweet the company.
"We know many people poured their hearts and souls into those spacecraft".
Rocket Lab has made some impressive gains lately as a relatively young space startup focused on launching small satellites to orbit, but the latest outing of its Electron booster hasn't quite gone to plan. "Today's anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving, but we will identify the issue, rectify it, and be safely back on the pad as soon as possible", Beck said.
"The launch team operated with professionalism and expertise to implement systems and procedures that ensured the anomaly was managed safely".
Talking to the media a few hours after the Electron rocket failed to reach orbit, Beck said it was a tough day for the company and its staff.
Rocket Lab's website details the satellites that were to be deployed.
The CE-SAT 1B is a high-resolution micro-satellite based around the image sensor from a Canon 5D Mark III.
Loaded aboard were seven small satellites, including one for Canon Electronics created to demonstrate new Earth-imaging capabilities with advanced wide-angle and high-res cameras. "This unprecedented dataset helps researchers, students, businesses and governments discover patterns, detect early signals of change, and make timely, informed decisions".
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