Watch Rocket Lab catch (and then drop) an Electron rocket first stage [Video]

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.

Rocket Lab drops first caught Electron booster, but it’s not a failure

Earlier today, Rocket Lab launched its ‘There and Back Again’ mission. This was the first Electron launch to feature an air-based recovery, using a helicopter to catch the first stage that was descending under parachute. While the catch seemed good, and Rocket Lab confirmed success, groans heard from mission control made it clear that all was not quite as expected.

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Rocket Lab successfully catches falling rocket with helicopter during ‘There and Back Again’ mission [Update: Not quite]

Reusability is a growing trend in spaceflight – from reusable capsules, space planes, and rocket boosters. Rocket Lab is going all-in on reusability with its Neutron rocket, as is SpaceX with its Starship, but before then, Rocket Lab has adapted and improved its Electron rocket for recovery and reuse.

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Rocket Lab & NASA break ground on facility for Neutron, Rocket Lab’s reusable ‘mega constellation launcher’

In a ceremony on Monday, Rocket Lab broke ground on a new facility for the company’s upcoming Neutron rocket. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck was joined by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, the director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Dennis Andrucyk, the director of Wallops Flight Facility Dave Pierce, and others for the groundbreaking ceremony.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Falcon 9 reuse

SpaceX has stood out from other rocket companies in their determination to reuse their Falcon 9 boosters as much as possible. Below are some FAQs of booster reuse.

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United Launch Alliance played with the thought of faring reuse but ended up scrapping it

SpaceX has had great success recovering and reusing their payload fairings. In contrast, ULA doesn’t recover or reuse them, but according to CEO Tory Bruno, ULA seriously considered implementing fairing reuse, but the economics didn’t make sense.

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Why doesn’t SpaceX use parachutes on Falcon 9?

This is a commonly asked question about SpaceX Booster Recovery. Why would SpaceX waste fuel igniting the engines and trying to land vertically rather than using parachutes like the Space Shuttle SRB’s did? There are a number of reasons a propulsively landing system is ideal, but they all tie back to SpaceX’s goal of rapid reusability.

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