Rocket Lab wants to use helicopters to recover its rockets

Imagen: Rocket Lab

The low cost space company Rocket Lab already has its own formula to recover its rockets: it will do so with helicopters.

How the feat is achieved may vary, but the rockets of the future will be reusable. To this destination flies the aerospace sector. It is done by private companies, jealous of adjusting their profit margins. But, without a doubt, the trend will spread to large space agencies, such as NASA or, now, the CNSA (China).

For now, the example has spread among private equity participants who have put their heads in this constrained sector. SpaceX has been the most prolific in terms of take-offs and recoveries, although Blue Origin, by Jeff Bezos, has also lavished on these technical hurdles.

It was clear, with this scenario, that Rocket Lab had to start recovering its rockets. The space company, of American origin but with an important subsidiary in New Zealand, has based its rise on its low operating costs and on prices equally based on market standards. There is no other alternative for this business plan than to reuse rockets.

This will also try to optimize Rocket Lab costs to the maximum. And, while SpaceX designs its Falcon to land again on a platform, sometimes maritime, the solution of this company will go through helicopters. This is planned in their plans. The helicopters will hunt the rockets in their fall towards the earth’s surface.

Rocket hunting
The Rocket Lab method is different from that used by SpaceX. Elon Musk’s company poses its Falcon on a landing platform, either in a space center or on a conditioned ship. Return to Earth self-propelled and with a calculated objective.

Rocket Lab’s rocket, Electron, will not be as sophisticated, but the system is ingenious. Once the lower part of the Electron separates from the upper one, which contains the charge, it will progressively fall towards our planet. At a certain moment, as the earth’s surface approaches, a parachute will fire to slow the rocket’s speed.

At the same time, a ship will wait for the area where the rocket is expected to fall. From here a helicopter will leave at the right time. Your mission will be to approach the Electron and attach to a piece connected by a cable to the rocket. Once the hitch is established, the helicopter will return to the ship to leave its cargo.

This will be Rocket Lab’s way to recover its rockets. Still to be tested, but the system design already seems polished. The following is the trial-error phase, in which companies like SpaceX already accumulate a good handful of experience.

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