Rocket Lab "returns to sender" with Electron's 1st first stage recovery

22 Novembre, 2020, 19:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Rocket Lab Successfully Recovers Its Electron Booster for the First Time

Rocket Lab just delivered a passel of satellites to orbit and took a big step toward booster reusability.

Rocket Lab has guided Electron first stages back to Earth in a controlled fashion during operational launches before.

It was tricky for the regular watcher to know whether the first-stage booster made it safely back down to Earth via the company's live feed.

Rocket Lab's Return to Sender rocket sits on the pad at Māhia.

Rocket Lab, a space systems company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has successfully launched its 16th Electron mission and deployed 30 small satellites to orbit - the largest number of satellites deployed by Electron to date on a single mission.

SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk was among the people to congratulate the company, and has previously commented on Rocket Labs' updates, said Rocket Lab spokeswoman Morgan Bailey. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform.

A recovery crew in a boat would pick up stage one, but it would take some time to determine what shape the rocket was in. But once at a certain altitude, the Electron will deploy a drogue parachute and a main parachute to slow its fall.

"Splashdown of Electron's first stage confirmed", Rocket Lab tweeted this morning, "recovery ops are underway".

Another satellite, called Waka Āmiorangi Aotearoa APSS-1, was built by students in the Auckland Programme for Space Systems at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

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Twenty-six or so students were involved in building the satellite, which took three-and-a-half years.

Other companies are racing to develop their own recovery technologies, including United Launch Alliance, builder of the Vulcan rocket that will replace the company's Atlas 5 and Delta 4 boosters, and Blue Origin, builder of yet-to-fly New Glenn rockets.

"There's nothing like doing this for real", said Bailey. Rocket Lab sponsored the project by providing the launch at no cost to the University of Auckland.

Buying the whole rocket would cost US$7.5 million (NZ$10.8 million).

Rocket Lab is the world's leading dedicated small satellite launch provider.

As exciting as the splashdown and recovery were, the chief aim of "Return to Sender" was to get the 30 payloads aloft.

Earlier it was reported that the mission of the Arianespace company ended in failure.

Newell was visiting New Zealand when the coronavirus pandemic closed the country's borders in March, and with a group of friends made a decision to stay. Named Gnome Chompski, the statue is modeled after a prop from the Half-Life video game series and served as a fun way to simulate mass during the flight. While the Electron slowly descends to Earth, Rocket Lab will send out a helicopter to snag hold of the parachutes' line, effectively catching the vehicle from mid-air and preventing the hardware from hitting the ocean.

Also aboard "Return to Sender" were two satellites for Virginia-based TriSept Corp.'s Drag Racer mission. For every person who watched the launch webcast, Mr. Newell donated a dollar to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship Children's Hospital.

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