Watch NZ’s Rocket Lab catch a falling rocket with a helicopter

Watch NZ’s Rocket Lab catch a falling rocket with a helicopter

Rocket Labs has a new look at its epic booster snag from earlier this month.

On May 2, the company used a helicopter to catch the falling first stage of its two-stage Electron rocket during a mission called "There And Back Again" that sent 34 satellites into orbit.

Video of the historic catch was posted on Twitter by Rocket Lab on Wednesday. This video shows, among other things, shots from the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter as it eased within range of the booster to snag its parachute line with a hook.

Rocket Lab tweeted, along with the hashtag #ThereAndBackAgain, "Now these are views we could get used to," they wrote.

Chopper pilots eventually let the booster go, "as they didn't like the way it was flying ... no big deal, the rocket splashed down safely and the ship is loading it now," Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck tweeted on May 2.

He was talking about the company's recovery ship, which then towed the rocket back to shore for analysis. 

Rocket Lab's trying to make Electron's first stage reusable using helicopter recovery. Eventually, this will lower launching costs while increasing launch frequency, company reps say. 



Helicopters are preferred over SpaceX's approach, which uses engine burns to guide Falcon 9 stages to a soft landing on land or a "droneship" platform at sea. Beck says that the 18-metre Electron is too short for this approach since the boosters don't have enough fuel to leave for landing.


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