Rocket Lab thinks the idea of ​​catching a rocket with a helicopter is brilliant, so it does it again

Rocket Lab thinks the idea of ​​catching a rocket with a helicopter is brilliant, so it does it again

After the first attempt this spring, which was almost successful, the American company Rocket Lab is preparing another attempt to recover the rocket in full flight by helicopter.

Retrieving a stage from the rocket once its mission is accomplished: This is a project followed by the American company Rocket Lab. A ridiculous plan? Anyway, she made her first attempt in the spring and it almost succeeded. So why not start again soon? It is the intention of the group, He said on September 1.

SpaceX benefits from a highly advanced system that allows it to return the center stage of its Falcon 9 launchers to its preferred location (from the ocean on a boat or landing pad). The rocket lab’s process is a little more primitive: a helicopter has to approach the tube to grab it.

Sikorsky S-92
The type of helicopter used to capture the rocket. //Source: James

Helicopter to avoid contact with water

How does it work? After the rocket body completes its mission by ejecting the satellite to be launched into orbit, it falls back to Earth under the force of gravity. This time, it is slowed down by two successive parachutes. When it reaches a certain height, the helicopter approaches, maneuvers over it and grabs the canvas with a pole, a hook.

So much for theory. In practice, the first test was mixed: of course, the helicopter captured the canvas well, but the experience was reduced. Unexpected behavior necessitated the release of their “prey”. In fact, there was no risk of exposing the helicopter’s occupants. The land was fished from the sea.

counter electronic
The first phase of the Electron rocket was recovered from the sea. //Source: Rocket Lab

The good news is that the site is in good shape. Also, the company announced on September 1 that it had succeeded in fixed firing, i.e. without actual takeoff. One of the engines may have caught fire. For Rocket Lab, this paves the way for a new initiative at a yet-to-be-determined date. Because like SpaceX, the rocket lab wants to reuse its equipment.

The fact that the salvaged parts from this engine ran on the test bed with minimal rework is further proof that we are on the right track. “The rocket lab commented. Especially in this case, since the rocket has come into contact with sea water, a helicopter rescue would be better.

The next attempt should happen before the end of this year.

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