The Rocket Lab, a commercial space enterprise in the United States, successfully deployed an arrow 34 satellite, using a helicopter to capture rocket boosters from the air for the first time.
At 10:49 A.m. New Zealand Standard Time on May 3, rockets from Rocket Lab Electronics were launched on The Maxia Peninsula in New Zealand to carry out the “Go and Return” mission and deploy an arrow and 34 satellites. These payloads include monitoring light pollution, demonstrating space debris removal techniques, and validating sustainable satellite system technologies to avoid collisions with untraceable space objects. After launch, the electron rocket stage one booster returned with the help of a parachute. Descending to an altitude of 6,500 feet (about 1,981 meters), the booster rendezvoused with the helicopter, which hooked the parachute line with a hook.
After completing the aerial capture, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than the previous test and subsequently released the first-stage booster. After the booster is safely splashed at sea, it is transported back to the rocket laboratory by a recovery ship for analysis and evaluation for reuse. Rocket Lab said that aerial capture is an important milestone for Rocket Lab to make the Electron rocket a reusable rocket, increase the frequency of launches and reduce launch costs. This is the first time helicopter capture has been introduced into rocket recovery reuse, and this mission will provide information for future helicopter captures.
Rocket Labs founder and CEO Peter Beck said that a rocket coming back from space and capturing it with a helicopter is like a supersonic ballet where a multitude of factors must be coordinated and many systems must work together perfectly. From now on the first stage booster will be evaluated and modifications to the system and procedures may be required for the next helicopter capture and final rocket reusability decisions. Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Long Beach, California, The Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small launch vehicle and photonic satellite platform. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, the Electron rocket has become the second most frequent rocket launched annually in the United States. The mission is the 26th launch of the Electron rocket, and the Rocket Laboratory Electron rocket has put 146 satellites into orbit.
Rocket Lab is also developing a neutron launch vehicle with a carrying capacity of 8 tons. It has three launch pads at two launch sites, two of which are located in New Zealand and one in Virginia, USA, and are expected to be operational in 2022. Get more cutting-edge research progress visit: https://byteclicks.com
The first stage and parachute capture rocket boosters in the air (left) and the Electron rocket launches (right).