Rocket Lab on the Path to Reusable Rockets

  • Rocket Lab on the Path to Reusable Rockets

Rocket Lab on the Path to Reusable Rockets

The 6-inch-tall (15 centimeters) titanium gnome won't stay up long, however: Throughout the mission, it will stay attached to Electron's kick stage, which delivers satellites to precise orbits and then performs a suicide dive into Earth's atmosphere to avoid becoming a piece of space junk. Company officials say perfecting first stage recovery will reduce costs and increase the availability of flight hardware for a more rapid launch cadence.

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its Electron rocket today in a mission that includes sending a student-made satellite into space, raising money for Auckland's Starship children's hospital and a company first - an attempt to recover the rocket's first stage section via parachute instead of writing it off, as it has done in the past. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted out an initial photo of the Electron underneath a parachute, and hosts during the launch's livestream said that more photos would be shared in the coming days. But once at a certain altitude, the Electron will deploy a drogue parachute and a main parachute to slow its fall. The mission brings the total number of satellites launched by Rocket Lab to 95. This was announced by the operator Rocket Lab on Twitter. Among the payloads deployed were satellites created to test new methods of deorbiting space debris, enable internet from space, and build upon a maritime surveillance constellation.

It was also reported that China has launched the world's first 6G test satellite into space. Rocket Lab sponsored the project by providing the launch at no cost to the University of Auckland. Also launched into orbit was a garden gnome figurine from the video game Left 4 Dead 2.

In addition, it marks a first trip to space for "Gnome Chompski", a 3D-printed gnome printed by Weta Workshop for Valve software founder Gabe Newell, an American billionaire who has resided in New Zealand since the first Covid-19 lockdown. While watching Gnome Chompski get launched to space for real was a spectacle enjoyed by gamers worldwide, Mr. Chompski also served an important R&D function by allowing Rocket Lab to test and qualify novel 3D printing techniques that could be employed for future spacecraft components. "Thank you to our incredible customers, and to the tireless team behind Electron who delivered mission success once again". However, the company skipped the final step of snatching the Electron out of the air, and the rocket ultimately splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Rocket Lab's rideshare mechanism meant lots of satellites hitched a ride together, with the price dependent on the size and the complexity of the mission.

Rocket Lab specializes in launching small payloads to orbit that do not require larger, much more expensive rockets.

What's different about Rocket Lab's approach, compared with SpaceX's vessel retrieval or drone ship landings, is that it's working towards a mid-air helicopter retrieval operation, as the Vergereports. Photon is a complete spacecraft bus solution that can be tailored for a range of missions. Rocket Lab operates launch sites in Māhia, New Zealand and Wallops Island, Virginia.