start rocket lab A long-prepared piece managed tonight. Up in the air Capture the first stage of his electronic missile using a helicopter fitted with a giant grapplewhile going down an umbrella. Thus the conveyor can be reused in subsequent years after minor modifications and thorough examination. Rocket Lab is only the second company after SpaceX to do something similar.
The Electron rocket launched 34 Rocket Lab satellites into orbit on Monday. Things went smoothly, but what followed was even more interesting. As the main carrier with parachute brakes descended to the ground, Rocket Lab first attempted to grab it. The company used a Sikorski S-92 helicopter with a special hook.
Watch how the missile is picked up by a helicopter:
Before returning to the atmosphere, the rocket tilted at a precisely calculated angle to withstand the onslaught of heat and pressure. Then I launched an umbrella, then another. When it descended, the helicopter tied it up about two kilometers above sea level.
How do describe it Peter Beck, the head of the missile laboratory, did not like the pilots because the missile was suspended under the helicopter. They described the “unexpected characteristics of pregnancy” and preferred to throw it into the sea. It was caught from there and is being analyzed. The whole process did not go without problems, however, the company considers the attempt a success, because the main physical takeover succeeded.
A schematic diagram of the missile capture process
Diving into the sea is not suitable for the missile, salt water can damage the carrier. Ideally, in the future, the helicopter should fly directly to Rocket Lab and not come into contact with water at all. Once that succeeds, the company will be able to boast a service similar to SpaceX – reusable rocket launchers for moving satellites into orbit. Electrons have not yet offered this option.
Picking up a missile in the air with a helicopter is better than a SpaceX-Falcon 9 landing rocket, sacrificing about 30% of its carrying capacity to land autonomously on land or on a ready-made platform at sea. Electron rockets do not have this drawback, so they are more efficient.
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