Follow the rocket laboratory’s attempt to recover the first phase of its electron rocket

Follow the rocket laboratory's attempt to recover the first phase of its electron rocket

Like SpaceX, the American company Rocket Lab is trying to reuse the first phase of its rocket. A test takes place this Saturday, which can be followed directly.

  • What? Placing two satellites in orbit with a small rocket;
  • When? May 15, 2021, from 12 noon (Paris time);
  • Or? From New Zealand;
  • What shall we see? Recovery of the first phase of the launcher, after its landing.

On paper, the work is very classic. The American company Rocket Lab will launch two electron rocket satellites for the benefit of the American company Space Flight Industries. It operates a network of satellites called Blacksky. Each of these satellites weighs 60 kilograms and should be 430 kilometers above sea level in low Earth orbit.

But the role for the rocket lab is elsewhere. This is especially the question of retrieving the first phase of its electron rocket. It is a small-capacity engine that can carry up to 300 kg of pelvic orbit. It is 17 meters high and 1.2 meters in diameter. In comparison, the smallest European rocket powered by Arianespace is 30 meters high and 3 meters in diameter.

Rocket Lab Electron
A small, but powerful rocket. // Source: Andrew Burns & Simon Moffat

« While the second phase of the electron will put the satellites into orbit, the first phase of the electron will carry out a series of complex maneuvers. 2, explains the company On the side Assignment of work.

It turns out that Rocket Lab has already succeeded for the first time in recovering the first phase of its rocket. This was in November 2020. Since then, three new missions have been launched, but without a new attempt. One big clarification though: Rocket Laboratory is actually continuing to recover its first phase, but it is not at the SpaceX level. The company should be satisfied with the structure fishing out to sea.

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This second recovery effort is part of a long-term goal that could enable reusable rockets – like SpaceX, which, even if the US company could not automatically bring its first one. Rocket Lab is in the process of developing a new rocket, which is more ambitious than the electron. Her name? Neutron.

Counter electronics
Rocket Lab also collects its rockets. This is less than SpaceX. // Source: Rocket Laboratory

This work, called Running Out of Toes, will take place on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at 2 p.m. Departing from Mahia, New Zealand. It is a peninsula located northeast of the North Island, making it the second largest island in the country. The Mission Control Center is located hundreds of kilometers from the capital, Auckland.

Departure can be followed live On the Rocket Lab website, When the video is uploaded. It will be attached below.

Look at the world from space

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

"Alcohol evangelist. Devoted twitter guru. Lifelong coffee expert. Music nerd."

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