Watch a helicopter try to catch a falling rocket booster
Rocket Lab gears up for a second attempt at his dangerous stunt: catching a rocket in mid-air with a large helicopter. Here’s how to catch the action.
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The company will try to catch its Electron rocket following its upcoming launch during a window opening Friday, November 4 at 1:15 PM ET. falls back to earth.
The daring catch in the air is broadcast and you can tune in to the action live. Rocket Lab will start a live stream of the “Catch Me If You Can” mission about 20 minutes before its scheduled launch via its website. You can also watch the launch and attempted catch in the live stream below.
This is the company’s second attempt at getting the rocket’s catch in the air, and it aims to get it right this time. On May 2, a modified Sikorsky S-92 managed to capture the Electron rocket as it fell back to Earth after launch, but eventually fell into the Pacific Ocean. The pilots on board the helicopter noticed “different load characteristics” than those during previous test flights and decided to drop the missile just to be safe.
Rocket Lab must recover its rocket before it hits the water to explore its potential for reuse during future launches. During Friday’s launch, the company’s Electron rocket will carry a single satellite known as MATS, or Mesospheric Airglow/Aerosol Tomography and Spectroscopy. Funded by the Swedish National Space Agency, the satellite will study gravitational waves in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
The rocket’s second stage will launch the payload into orbit, while the booster, or motor of the first stage, detaches from the second stage and parachutes back to Earth. A helicopter is ready to catch the missile by hooking the parachute line through a large hook.
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Rocket Lab hopes to cut costs of upcoming launches by reusing the first stage of its Electron rocket in the same way SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 rocket. However, SpaceX’s rocket lands vertically on landing pads or offshore platforms rather than being hooked to a hovering helicopter.
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