Rocket Launch Explodes Shortly After Takeoff

After launch Tuesday night, Airbus SE’s Earth-imaging satellites were lost after their rocket failed.

An engine on a part of the rocket had experienced a drop in pressure, according to Arianespace SAS, the company operating it. In accordance with standard operating procedures, officials overseeing the flight’s safety sent the command to destroy the vehicle.

“It is a challenging time for all Airbus teams involved in these satellites,” the company said.

It was a normal launch from Arianespace’s European rocket launch facility in South America on Tuesday night. No injuries were reported.

A satellite fleet called Pléiades Neo, which Airbus says provides sophisticated imagery of Earth, would have been completed by the two destroyed satellites. According to the company, two satellites are already providing imagery.

According to Arianespace, an independent panel will investigate the failure of the Vega C rocket on Tuesday night.

In a Wednesday briefing, Arianespace chief executive Stephane Isral apologized for the failure.

French rocket company Arianespace operates several rockets, launching from a site on the coast of French Guiana to carry out space flights for government and commercial clients.

Last year, Arianespace launched the James Webb Space Telescope, an observatory that took years to design and build.

Earlier this year, Amazon.com Inc. selected the company as one of three launch providers to deploy satellites for their fleet of broadband satellites.