US space company Rocket Lab received for the first time a helicopter-launched rocket on its return. The company wants the booster to be safely returned to the ground so it can be reused. After the capture, the missile fell into the sea.
Rocket Lab launched the Electron rocket from its launch site in New Zealand on Monday evening. The rocket successfully launched 34 small satellites into orbit. Rocket Lab has completed successful electronic missions before, but this mission saw the company achieve little success in recovering the rocket’s first stage for the first time. Unlike SpaceX, Rocket Lab does not want to land the booster itself, but catch it with a helicopter. This has now been achieved for the first time during an operational flight, but only temporarily.
The booster vehicle fell to the ground on a parachute after detonating it in the second stage. Next, a pilot in a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter with a hook attached to a cable tried to intercept that parachute in flight. This worked about 15 minutes after launch, like It can be seen on the webcast in 52 minutes† Soon after, the image disappeared. The company later said that the pilot detached the missile himself. He did so because the rocket’s feel was different than expected. The pilot decided to drop the missile into the sea after all, so it could be picked up by boat.
So the mission was only partially successful, but it was nonetheless an important milestone for Rocket Lab. Company introduced Already known in 2019 They would like to pick up the booster with a helicopter, but so far they have dropped the missiles back into the sea. Rocket Lab has already succeeded in 2020 during the test to catch a missile. It didn’t happen after launch, but after another helicopter shot down the booster. Rocket Lab hopes to redeploy the Electron rocket it has now used by the end of this year. The goal, like SpaceX, is to create a rocket that will not be affected by salty sea water and can be reused more than once to reduce costs.
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