Launch Spotlight: There And Back Again – Rocket Lab attempts first air recovery of Electron

Rocket Lab launched an Electron rocket from LC-1A at its private launch site in New Zealand on May 2, 2022, at 6:49 p.m. EDT. This launch will carry 34 payloads to a Sun-Synchronous Orbit. The window extends until 8:40 p.m. EDT.

Launch Overview

Launch Date: May 2, 2022, 6:49 p.m. EDT

Payload: 34 Rideshare Satellites

Rocket: Rocket Lab Electron

Launch Pad: LC-1A, Mahia, New Zealand

Destination: 520km Sun-Synchronous Orbit

Landing Site: Above the Pacific Ocean (Aerial Recovery)


The Mission

There And Back Again carried 34 rideshare satellites to a Sun-Synchronous Orbit at an altitude of 520km. This mission will also be the first time Rocket Lab will attempt to recover the first stage booster from the sky using a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter. Once the stage is recovered out of the air it will be transported back to the launch site for inspection.

Learn more about the mission by checking out the press kit here.


What is the Electron rocket?

Electron is a small-lift, two-stage launch vehicle that delivers small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, Sun-Synchronous Orbit, and beyond. Its first stage sports nine Rutherford engines, each with 24kN of thrust, and its second stage a single Rutherford vacuum engine with 25.8kn of thrust. The vehicle’s structure is made up of carbon composite material, ensuring a lightweight vehicle, resulting in increased performance. The Electron has flown 25 times so far with a 92% success rate.

Rocket Lab has been working towards recovering the first stage of the vehicle to ultimately be reused. This will make Electron the first reusable small satellite launch vehicle.


Where to watch?

Rocket Lab will be streaming the launch on its YouTube channel with the stream going live around 20 minutes before the launch.

Featured Image: There and Back Again Liftoff – Rocket Lab

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