The American company Rocket Lab has tested the concept of capture the return of the first stage booster Electron in the air. As writes Flightglobal, during the test, the layout of the first stage of the rocket falling on a parachute, caught in the air by helicopter. The established test developers have recognized successful.
Rocket Lab is developing a two-stage rocket ultralight class Electron 2012. This device is able to output in low-earth orbit a payload weighing up to 225 pounds, and on a sun-synchronous up to 150 pounds. The missile is planned to be used primarily to launch micro – and nano-satellites.
The media got returned the first tier, allowing the developers plan to reduce the cost of satellite launches. According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the launch of the carrier is from 5 to 7 million dollars.
Test to capture the first stage in the air took place in late March, 2020, off the coast of New Zealand. During the tests, a helicopter lifted the layout of the first stage Electron to a height and dropped it. In the fall at the model, the parachute was opened, and he began a gradual decline.
Parachute system return stage consists of a main dome and a small auxiliary parachute, which stretches and stabilizes the toe rope. During testing, the second helicopter at an altitude of about 1.5 thousand meters hooked declining the layout of the rope and then took him to the base and smoothly lowered to the ground.
Now the experts of Rocket Lab has started preparing a new stage of tests returned to the stage Electron. In these tests with the help of the helicopter is planned to land for a full first stage of the carrier rocket, equipped with a full set of equipment. These tests are planned at the end of 2020.
Last spring, Rocket Lab announced the development of a universal platform for the creation of satellites equipped with its own rocket motors, communications systems and interfaces for connection of various equipment from other manufacturers.