Rocket Lab intends to recover the first stage of its Electron rocket during its upcoming mission. This was announced in a tweet from the company’s Twitter account.
In recent years, Rocket Lab has made significant efforts towards the recovery and reuse of the first stages of the Electron rocket. Initially, the company experimented with a combination of parachutes and a specially equipped helicopter designed to “catch” the descending stages as they returned to Earth. However, this method proved to be too complex. During the first attempt, the helicopter pilot had to drop the stage into the water. In the second attempt, the company lost telemetry from the stage, dropping it down to the Pacific Ocean.
However, upon evaluating the condition of the stage that splashed down in the ocean, engineers found it to be in satisfactory condition, with most components suitable for reuse without the need for extensive refurbishment. As a result, Rocket Lab decided to abandon the helicopter approach and focus on stage recovery using parachutes.
The next recovery experiment by Rocket Lab will take place during the Baby Come Back mission, scheduled for July 14. Within this mission, the Electron rocket will launch seven satellites into orbit, including those owned by NASA, Telesat, and Spire Global.
It is worth noting that Rocket Lab recently conducted the first launch of a suborbital version of the Electron rocket.