Rocket Lab attempted an air recovery of the first stage of its Electron rocket during the recent “There and Back Again” mission. The company just released new video of the mission, including video from the rocket during the catch.
After successfully launching 34 rideshare satellites, the Electron’s first stage descended under parachute back towards the ocean. Electron rockets have done that before, but this time, a pilot in a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter was nearby, ready to scoop the rocket’s first stage out of the air.
The catch seemed successful at first, and Rocket Lab even referred to it as a successful catch, but just moments later, the pilot had to release Electron from the due to unexpected loads on the helicopter.
While the catch wasn’t a total success, the company was still able to recover the first stage, just out of the water instead of the air. Now, Rocket Lab has shared new views of the launch and recovery attempt, showing what happened just off-camera of the stream; check it out:
Bringing a rocket back from space and catching it with a helicopter is something of a supersonic ballet. A tremendous number of factors have to align and many systems have to work together flawlessly, so I am incredibly proud of the stellar efforts of our Recovery Team and all of our engineers who made this mission and our first catch a success. From here we’ll assess the stage and determine what changes we might want to make to the system and procedures for the next helicopter catch and eventual re-flight.Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck