Modern aerospace companies are activelydevelop the idea of reusable nodes and stages of missiles. One of the leading US private aerospace companies, Rocket Lab, specializing in launches of small rockets for delivering small satellites of the CubeSat class into orbit, plans to use the first stage of the Electron rocket for re-launches. At the same time, the company's engineers offer an original way of landing the return stage. When approaching the Earth, the step is caught in the air or from the surface of the water with a special hook from a helicopter and transported to the desired point.
In early March, experts at Rocket Labconducted trial tests of the capture and transportation system of the descending stage of the Electron. Currently, the company has published a video of the process during which a helicopter intercepts a parachute dropping model of the first stage of a space rocket that was dropped from another helicopter.
The layout capture was successful the first time -a special hook from a helicopter intercepted the descending system and delivered it to the control point. The interception of a parachuting object was completed at an altitude of 1,500 meters.
Real-world testing of the capture systemThe first stage of the Electron rocket will occur after one of the spacecraft launches. However, during actual flights and catching the reusable stage, pilots will not have to perform such stunning tricks, since the catch of the parachute-first stage system will be carried out after it is brought into the ocean. The first real test of the reusable stage, with its return to Earth, will be carried out before the end of 2020.
The transfer to operation of the reusable stages of the Electron spacecraft will enable Rocket Lab to increase flight efficiency, reducing the cost of launching satellites and increasing the number of launches.