Rocket Lab to Recover Electron Rocket, Introduce Helicopter Operations During Next Launch October 20, 2021 Doug Messier News Leave a comment A crew recovers the first stage of an Electron rocket from the ocean. (Credit: Rocket Lab) The mission is the latest in Rocket Lab’s program to make Electron the first reusable orbital launch vehicle dedicated to small satellites. After splashing down in the ocean, Electron’s first stage will be recovered by ship and transported back to Rocket Lab’s production complex for analysis. For the first time, a helicopter will track and observe Electron’s descent in preparation for future missions which aim to use helicopters to intercept and capture returning rocket boosters mid-air as they return to Earth under parachute.
Long Beach, California. 19 October 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB ) has today revealed it will attempt a controlled ocean splashdown and recovery of the first stage of an Electron rocket during the company’s next launch in November. The mission will be Rocket Lab’s third ocean recovery of an Electron stage; however, it will be the first time a helicopter will be stationed in the recovery zone around 200 nautical miles offshore to track and visually observe a descending stage in preparation for future aerial capture attempts. The helicopter will not attempt a mid-air capture for this mission but will test communications and tracking to refine the concept of operations (CONOPS) for future Electron aerial capture.
The ‘Love At First Insight’ mission is scheduled to lift-off from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a 14-day launch window that opens on November 11, 2021 UTC. The mission’s primary objective is to deploy two Earth-observation satellites for global monitoring company BlackSky, with the secondary objective to splash down and recover Electron’s first stage to further validate Rocket Lab’s recovery operations and hardware.