Rocket Lab confirmed plans to capture the booster with a helicopter later this month – Spaceflight Now

A modified Sikorsky S-92 helicopter will attempt to capture a Rocket Lab propeller coming down through the air during the next operation. Available: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab is planning its first attempt to capture some of its small -scale aircraft returning by helicopter after release later this month, nearly three years after the announcement of the combine its return to air and reuse the concept.

The upcoming Rocket Lab mission will be launched from New Zealand before April 19 with 34 small satellites from commercial companies Alba Orbital, Astrix Astronautics, Aurora Propulsion Technologies, E-Space, Unseenlabs, and Swarm Technologies, the company said on April 5th.

The mission will mark a major leap forward for Rocket Lab’s re -deployment program, after three returns from the Pacific. Those splashdowns under the parachutes are experiments designed to collect data about the construction loads, heating, and lowering the Electron boost sessions during re -entry and descent. .

The next mission will bring in joining the last piece of Rocket Lab’s healing concept. The installed Sikorsky S-92 helicopter will attempt to intercept the carbon fiber base launched under a parachute about 170 miles (280 kilometers) off the coast of New Zealand.

Fixing the booster in the air to prevent it from reaching the sea, eliminating the risk of damage or harm from exposure to salt water, and practicing the corrective actions that require a fresh start.

The Electron booster is powered by nine Rutherford oil pumps. The rocket, which stands about 60 feet (18 meters) high on the launch pad, also has a single -level two -level engine, and a third level that can put small loads into orbit.

“We are excited to be involved in this next phase of the Electron dedication project,” said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, a U.S. -based company originally based in New Zealand.

Photo of an Electron rocket standing at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1A earlier this year. Available: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab also released a copy, or mock -up, of the boost levels from a helicopter. In those attempts, the second helicopter flew to intercept the parachute’s drogue line with fear grappling at the end of a long boom. A similar route will be used with the Electron booster later this month.

“We led many winning helicopters with landing levels, performed major parachute tests, and successfully returned the first level of Electron from the ocean to our 16, 20, and 22 missions. this will come together for the first time and pull the Electron out of the air, ”Beck said in a statement.

Rocket Lab wants to restore and reuse the first layer from its small Electron pilot to achieve faster release speeds, limiting pressure on the company’s facilities in Auckland, New Zealand. and Long Beach, California.

“Trying to catch a rock when it falls to Earth is not an easy task, we are holding the needle here, but imposing boundaries with hard work in our minds. DNA, ”Beck said. “We hope to learn a lot from the mission when we make the ultimate goal of making Electron a new orbital smallsat launcher and providing our customer with more access to the service. start up.”

On the next flight, the first phase of the Electron rocket’s oil tank will be closed and separated from the second phase of the rocket about two and a half minutes after departure. , Beach to the top of its path, and then down again into the sky. . Power pilots turn the launcher to fly first to the tail, similar to the jets used in SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the only other action rocket with a new boost level. The Falcon 9 will set up launch pads at an outer base, or on a SpaceX landing site near the launch pad, depending on missionary requirements.

Rocket Lab expects to become the second company to implement the reusability booster, a goal announced by the company in August 2019. The Electron is smaller than the Falcon 9, which stands at about a quarter. the height of SpaceX’s rocket workhorse, with only 1%. The ability to raise the price of Falcon 9.

Rocket Lab said its Electron booster has a heat to protect its nine large engines from re -entry heat up to 4,350 degrees Fahrenheit (2,400 degrees Celsius) while the car is slowing down from its speed. altitude of about 5,150 (8,300 kilometers per hour).

The Sikorsky S-92 modified Rocket Lab helicopter will be used to capture an Electron amplifier as well. Available: Rocket Lab

After avoiding the heat of re -entry, the rocket launches a drogue parachute before launching its massive parachute at an altitude of nearly 20,000 feet (6,000 meters). The chute will slow the rocket’s speed to about 22.3 mph (10 meters per second), according to the Rocket Lab.

The Sikorsky S-92 helicopter will then move to capture the parachute line. Once the rocket is trapped under the helicopter, the Sikorsky will go ashore and return the propeller to a Rocket Lab building in New Zealand.

The twin -engine helicopter was a heavy -duty aircraft that was commonly used for oil and gas transport and search and rescue operations.

The second phase of the Rocket Lab will continue into orbit with 34 mission satellites. Picosatellites and CubeSats are available for technical demonstrations, ocean surveillance, and commercial data transmission services.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.