Update at 12 PM ET: Rocket Lab is now targeting 1:27 PM EDT (1727 GMT) to launch the Electron booster today and attempt to retrieve it by helicopter. The above live broadcast will start 15 minutes before takeoff.
Rocket Lab will launch a satellite into orbit and attempt to catch a helicopter landing booster on Friday (November 4), and you can watch the event live.
rocket lab It plans to launch a mission called “Catch Me If You Can” on Friday from its New Zealand location, during a 75-minute window that opens at 1:27 p.m. EST (1727 GMT, 6:15 AM on November 4th New Zealand local time).
You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly through the company (Opens in a new tab). Coverage will start 20 minutes before take off.
The main goal on Friday is to raise a research satellite of the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA) using Electron A rocket, but most viewers will probably be more interested in a secondary goal – to recover the first stage of the falling electron.
Rocket Lab aims to pluck the booster out of the sky with a helicopter, a strategy designed to prevent the vehicle from submerging in corrosive seawater and to help facilitate its delivery back to terra firma for analysis and Ultimate reuse.
At 59 feet (18 meters) long, the Electron is a small satellite launcher with 31 missions under its belt so far, and is currently a fully expendable vehicle. Company representatives said that recovering and reusing the first stage would allow Rocket Lab to increase its flight rate and reduce costs.
The electron is too small to perform powered vertical landings, such as SpaceX Falcon 9 And the Falcon Heavy Boosters do not have enough fuel left after launch for such maneuvers. So Rocket Lab decided to go with the helicopter, which picks up the Electron’s parachute line with a hook as the booster descends.
Rocket Lab has made some progress toward the goal of reuse. For example, it has already recovered one helicopter, on a mission in May this year called “There and back again.” (Rocket Lab likes to name its flights with fun names, as you may have noticed.)
During that May mission, the helicopter – a Sikorsky S-92 – successfully hacked Electron but accidentally dropped it in the drink shortly thereafter.
Rocket Lab took the missile out of the sea and brought it back to shore by boat. The company analyzed the atmospheric booster, then refurbished and tested one of the nine Rutherford engines, with promising results.
“The revamped engine passed all of the same rigorous acceptance tests we perform for every launch engine, including 200 seconds of engine fire and multiple restarts,” company representatives wrote in the Catch Me If You Can press kit. over here (Opens in a new tab). They added that tests showed the engine produces full thrust and “performs at the same level as a newly built Rutherford engine”.
However, Rocket Lab prefers to keep their boosters out of the water. In the “Catch Me If You Can” program, the company aims to keep the captured booster secured under the helicopter throughout the flight to the production complex in Auckland.
The chopper’s catching will occur just under 19 minutes after takeoff, if all goes according to plan in “Catch Me If You Can”. The satellite, called MATS (“Middle Zone/Aerosol and Spectral Atmospheric Glow”), will be deployed in about 41 minutes.
MATS” is the basis of SNSA’s scientific mission to investigate atmospheric waves and better understand how the upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere It reacts to wind and weather patterns closer to Earth,” Rocket Lab wrote in the mission’s press kit.
MATS was originally supposed to be launched over a Russian missile, but SNSA and its main contractor for the OHB Sweden AB satellite, cancel this agreement (Opens in a new tab) distance Russian invasion of Ukraine And book an electron.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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