Rocket Lab, a New Zealand space launch company, has become the first to capture a rocket stage in the air with the help of a helicopter.
The mission, called There and Back Again, was considered successful in part because the idea was to have the equipment ashore by helicopter for reuse in future launches. However, he had to be released into the sea. (see below).
A reusable missile, especially a heavier one, is a priority target for the aerospace industry, particularly for satellite operators who want to increasingly reduce costs.
Industry trend started by billionaire Elon MuskOwner SpaceXwhich has invested in a system capable of launching the same vehicle into space more than once and landing anywhere. For the entrepreneur, this is how humans will colonize Mars.
Rocket Lab tests capturing part of a missile from a helicopter – Photo: Disclosure / Rocket Lab
The Electron rocket was launched Monday evening (2) Brasilia time – Tuesday morning in New Zealand. The second stage of the spacecraft separated from the thrusters and Carrying 34 small satellites into Earth’s orbit.
The first stage of the rocket returned to Earth at 10 meters per second and ended up being trapped by a parachute.
That’s when the helicopter crew began to move, swinging a hook under the helicopter to attach it to the support parachute. (See the video above).
After that, the crew took the rocket. Rising emotions were shown in the live broadcast of the event, as people at the mission control center cheered the moment the missile was captured.
However, the load on the helicopter exceeded the criteria for testing and simulation. Then they had to abandon it for safety reasons. In doing so, the first stage of the rocket fell into the ocean, where it was picked up by a waiting boat.
Rocket Lab picks up part of a missile from a helicopter – Photo: Disclosure / Rocket Lab
Even as the ocean crashed, company founder Peter Beck hailed the mission as a success, saying that nearly everything went according to plan.
“Repatriating a rocket from space and catching it with a helicopter is a kind of supersonic ballet. There are a plethora of factors that need alignment and many systems need to work together flawlessly, so I am very proud of the excellent efforts our recovery team has put in. And all our engineers who did this job and our first success.” Founder and CEO Peter Beck on the company’s official website.
Rocket launched by Rocket Lab – Photo: Disclosure / Rocket Lab
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