During the 26th launch of the Rocket Lab’s partially reusable Electron rocket carrier, the company almost managed to catch the first stage while returning to Earth by helicopter.
The helicopter grabbed the first stage and held it for a few seconds, but the helicopter pilot saw an abnormal load and released the stage, which, as usual, parachuted and was caught by a special ship.
Unlike the stages of the SpaceX rocket, the first stage of the Rocket Lab Electron is parachuted, and complete reusability had to be achieved by capturing a parachute with a stage in the air from a special cargo helicopter. It should be noted that the Electron booster made of carbon fiber is much lighter than the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, so this operation is not impossible. This is the first attempt to capture a rocket in the air, hopefully the next ones will be more successful.
During the launch of There And Back Again from the Mahiya Cosmodrome in New Zealand, Rocket Lab Electron launched 34 satellites of various clients into orbit. Rocket Lab is trying to reach the schedule of one launch every two weeks, but has not yet reached that pace.
We will remind, Rocket Lab develops fully reusable medium-range rocket carrier Neutron , the first launch of which is scheduled for 2024.