March 22, 2023
Rocket Lab will attempt the next helicopter rocket capture in the air

Rocket Lab will attempt the next helicopter rocket capture in the air

Rocket Lab Press Release | November 2, 2022

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 49 seconds.

Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a leading launch and space systems company, has confirmed that it will attempt to catch an Electron rocket with a helicopter as it returns to Earth from space during the company’s next launch.

Rocket Lab’s 32nd Electron launch, the “Catch Me If You Can” mission, is scheduled to launch from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 during a launch window that opens on November 04, UTC. Electron will carry a scientific research satellite from space systems provider OHB Sweden for the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA). The Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy Satellite (MATS) is the basis for SNSA’s science mission to investigate atmospheric waves and better understand how Earth’s upper atmosphere interacts with winds and weather patterns closer to the ground. MATS was originally scheduled to fly on a Russian launch service before the mission was announced on Rocket Lab’s Electron.

“Catch Me If You Can” will see Rocket Lab attempt to capture the rocket’s first stage in mid-air with a helicopter as it returns from space. Using a modified Sikorsky S-92 helicopter to catch and secure the rocket from its parachute line, Rocket Lab will bring the captured stage back to the Auckland production complex for processing and evaluation by engineers and technicians for possible reuse.

This Electron recovery attempt follows the capture of an Electron first stage during Rocket Lab’s first helicopter recovery attempt during the “There And Back Again” launch in May, and the recovery attempt for this mission will follow the same concept of operations as the previous one launch.

Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck says, “Our first helicopter capture just a few months ago proved that we can do whatever we wanted to do with the Electron, and we’re excited to get the helicopter back out there and launch our rocket. reuse even more, bringing back a dry stage for the first time.”

“Catch Me If You Can” Release Details:

  • Launch window opens: November 04, UTC
  • Launch Vehicle: Electron
  • Client: Swedish National Space Agency through OHB Sweden
  • Launch Site: Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, Pad B
  • Orbit: 585km circular earth orbit
  • Payload: MATS

Recovery Mission Profile:

  • Shortly before liftoff, the custom Sikorsky S-92 recovery helicopter will deploy to the capture zone at sea, approximately 160 nautical miles from New Zealand’s Trunk Peninsula.
  • Once launched, Electron’s first and second stages will separate at approximately T+2:32 minutes into the mission. The MATS payload will continue to orbit the rocket’s second stage while the Electron’s first stage descends back to Earth. At this point in the mission, the returning Electron is expected to reach speeds of up to 8,300 km (5,150 miles) per hour and temperatures of up to 2,400 degrees C (4,352 F).
  • At approximately T+7:20 minutes after liftoff, the Electron’s first parachute will deploy and shortly after the rocket’s main parachute. The double deployment of parachutes helps slow the first reentry stage to 0.4% of its final speed during descent: from 8,300 km/h to just 36 km/h.
  • As the Electron enters the capture zone, Rocket Lab’s recovery helicopter will match the rocket’s speed and descent from above, attempt to secure the parachute’s engagement line to the helicopter via a hook at the end of a long line.
  • Once captured and secured, the Electron will be transported back to Rocket Lab’s Auckland Production Complex. There, technicians will receive and prepare the stage for inspection to assess its suitability for reuse.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Rocket Lab USA, Inc.

#Rocket #Lab #attempt #helicopter #rocket #capture #air

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *