Science

Rocket Lab delays launch and recovery of Electron booster until Monday

Rocket Lab has delayed the launch of the Electron booster, which it hopes to grab from the sky with a helicopter after launch, until Monday (May 2) due to weather conditions.

Inclement weather is the main reason for the launch delay, Rocket Lab said in an update, but the company is in no hurry to conduct final checks on its recovery system for the Electron rocket reuse test.

“After a busy week of capture testing and while we wait for the weather to improve, we are taking an extra day to finalize the helicopter and rescue system before our first airborne capture attempt,” wrote Rocket Lab on Twitter. Update. Takeoff is now scheduled for Monday during a nearly 2-hour window that opens at 6:35 pm EST (22:35 GMT).

Rocket Lab’s upcoming “There and Back Again” launch will be the company’s first attempt to recover the first stage of the Electron launch vehicle in flight as part of a plan to reuse rockets and reduce launch costs.

The plan calls for launching the first stage of the Elektron launch vehicle normally and then dropping it back to Earth, optimizing its descent with “a series of complex maneuvers designed to allow it to survive the extreme heat and forces of re-entry.” the company said in a statement. Vacancy description. The heat shield will protect the Rutherford missile’s nine engines, and the parachute will slow its fall so that it can be captured by a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter.

Rocket Lab has already retrieved Electron launch vehicles from the ocean and has practiced catching mock rockets in the air, but has not yet attempted to catch an Electron returning from space after a real launch.

“Unlike previous rescue missions, Round Trip tries to avoid splashing down in the ocean as the helicopter will return to the stage and land after being caught,” Rocket Lab’s description reads. “After a successful recovery, Electron will be one step closer to becoming the first reusable orbital launch vehicle for small satellites.”

Despite its ambitious nature, the Electron recovery test is not the main goal of the Round trip mission.

Rocket Lab will launch 34 satellites into orbit for various clients, including three demonstration satellites for startup E-Space, two batches of IoT constellation pico satellites during a flight organized by Spaceflight, Inc., and AuroraSat-1, a demonstration satellite for test of space debris removal technologies, created by the Finnish company Aurora Propulsion Technologies.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@ or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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