Rocket Lab, an aerospace business, successfully managed on Monday to get its Electron orbital launch vehicle on the fly with a helicopter.
The mission, dubbed "There And Back Again," was first launched by Pad A at Rocket Lab''s launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The company successfully deployed 34 satellites into space on behalf of multiple customers, but the real issue was whether or not the company could execute a new strategy involving capturing the rocket booster mid-air as it fell back to Earth.
pic.twitter.com/GEsOmpYKFh and back again
Instead of having its booster land on its own, the spent rocket deployed a drogue parachute and then a larger main chute. A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter with a hook on a long line was sent out to snag the parachute line.
The goal was to safely fly the booster back to land, but the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than they experienced in testing and decided to drop the booster into the ocean.
"It''s a supersonic ballet" for bringing a rocket back from space and catching it with a helicopter," says Rocket Lab''s founder and CEO.
"It''s very important that a large number of factors have to be integrated, and many systems must work together flawlessly, so I''m incredibly pleased of our Recovery Team and all of our engineers who made this mission and our first catch a success."
Rocket Lab has recovered the booster and will send it back to its facility for analysis.