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Rocket Lab will try helicopter recovery of rocket booster – and CEO will eat his hat

7 Aug 2019, 01:50 UTC
Rocket Lab will try helicopter recovery of rocket booster – and CEO will eat his hat
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An artist’s conception shows a future Electron rocket making a re-entry after launch. (Rocket Lab Illustration)
Taking a page from SpaceX’s playbook, Rocket Lab’s CEO says the company will work toward recovering the first-stage booster of its Electron rocket to save time and money.
“Electron is going reusable,” CEO Peter Beck announced today at the annual SmallSat conference in Logan, Utah.
But Rocket Lab will take a different route to rocket reusability: Rather than having the booster fire its engines for a retro landing on its feet, the rocket core will be built to withstand the fiery forces of atmospheric re-entry and pop open a parachute to slow itself down. Then it would get plucked from the sky by a helicopter flying out from a ship stationed in the Pacific near Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch complex.
Beck explained that doing reusability the SpaceX way wouldn’t work for Rocket Lab’s “smaller is better” business model.
“That takes a small launch vehicle and turns it into a medium launch vehicle,” he said.
The plan for recovering and reusing boosters is a turnabout for Rocket Lab, which has focused on low-cost production of its currently non-reusable, carbon-composite-based Electron rocket and 3-D-printed Rutherford ...

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