Rocket Lab Grabs Booster With a Helicopter
Rocket Lab aims to join Elon Musk’s SpaceX in reusing rocket boosters, which can lower costs and increase the frequency of launching to orbit, Kenneth Chang writes for The New York Times. The small company with a small rocket, pulled off the first half of that feat during its latest launch from the east coast of New Zealand.
After sending a payload of 34 small satellites to orbit, the company used a helicopter to catch the 11.9m-long used-up booster stage of the rocket before it splashed into the Pacific Ocean.
“Eighty per cent of the cost of the whole rocket is in that first stage, both in terms of materials and labour,” Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said.
Later this month, Rocket Lab could launch CAPSTONE, a NASA-financed but privately operated mission, that will study a highly elliptical path around the moon to be used by a future American lunar space station. Before the end of this year, Rocket Lab hopes to start using a second launch site on Wallops Island in Virginia.
Original article by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, May 2, 2022.