The firm SpaceX now uses launchers regularly Falcon 9 having already flown one or more times for new missions, demonstrating the value of reusable launchers and the ability to chain missions quickly.
On this last point, the company Rocket Lab uses launchers for its part Electron lightweight (to launch small satellites or clusters of nano-satellites) whose motor elements are printed in 3D, allowing their rapid production.
Until now, the Electron launchers were for single use but Rocket Lab announces now want in recover the first floor to reuse it. The company unveils its project, initiated in late 2018, which will exploit a technique different from that of SpaceX, the Electron launcher does not have the sophistication of Falcon 9 launchers.
Rather than landing directly on the first floor smoothly, the company wants to recover it during its descent by a helicopter. After return to the atmosphere, the fall will be slowed by a parachute, enough to allow its recovery in flight.
Electron, but reusable. Full details from today's announcement here: https://t.co/O4sygsDbvN pic.twitter.com/G5fRhqmZzG
– Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) August 6, 2019
The first floor will then be returned to the Launch Complex 1 launch pad in New Zealand for verification and preparation for a new shot. Rocket Lab announces that the first recovery trials using this method will be tempted in the year.
The Make It Rain mission at the end of June has already made it possible to integrate the instruments needed to control the return dive of the first stage and the mission in August will add other equipment intended to control the recovery by the helicopter. .
As a first step, Rocket Lab must recover a first stage of its launcher that has landed near its firing point to study it and check its integrity. The second step will consist in recovering the stage in flight. The overall goal remains the same: multiply missions and reduce costs through 3D printing and reusable item recovery.