The New Zealand space flight company Rocket Lab plans to capture the first stage of one of its Electron rockets as it falls back to Earth shortly after launch on Friday.
It’s only the second time he’s attempted the feat, which involves a helicopter, a strong cable, and a grappling hook. Oh, and a very skilled pilot.
Once secured, the booster will fly back to base, be restored, and used for another flight, drastically reducing launch costs.
Rival spaceflight company SpaceX has been reusing its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters for years, but instead of trapping them, it lands them upright on the ground or on a barge parked in the ocean.
Rocket Lab released an animation this week showing precisely how it plans to catch the booster:
Catch Me If You Can? Challenge accepted. In two days' time, here’s how we’ll attempt to catch Electron with a helicopter as the rocket returns from space.
— RocketLab (@RocketLab) November 2, 2022
Rocket Lab’s first attempt at this complicated procedure took place six months ago, and although the helicopter managed to grab onto the booster as it floated back to Earth with the aid of a parachute, it was quickly released when the weight and motion of the booster began. affect the flight performance of the aircraft.
Friday’s mission, aptly named Catch Me If You Canis scheduled for launch from the Rocket Lab facility in New Zealand at 1:15 pm ET on Friday, November 4 (Saturday at 6:15 am local time).
Rocket Lab usually livestreams the start of its missions, though it’s unclear if it will include a livestream of the attempt to catch the booster soon after launch. He last posted the helicopter footage later in the day.
While many people will be primarily interested in seeing if the helicopter can hold the booster and bring it back to base, the mission also has some serious work to complete, specifically the orbital deployment of a scientific research satellite for the Space Agency. Swedish National.
If you are interested in watching the Rocket Lab live stream on Friday, please visit his YouTube channel shortly before launch.