The first time that Rocket Lab tried to catch a rocket with a helicopter, the results were almost successful. The company, which is striving to create a reusable rocket booster program, technically fumbled the first catch attempt. Now, its latest attempt to catch a falling rocket booster was met with failure once again, as telemetry data caused the catch to be aborted.
Rocket Lab attempted to catch a falling rocket booster using just a helicopter last week. It was the company’s second attempt at doing so, and it hoped that things would end with the booster being safely delivered to shore without getting wet. However, when the helicopter failed to catch the rocket this time, founder and CEO Peter Beck said that capturing the rocket is as complex as it sounds (via TheRegister).
According to Beck, there are multiple complex factors that must align in order for the delivery of the booster into the helicopter’s rigging to be successful. And, unfortunately, those complex factors just haven’t lined up correctly just yet. Of course, as I noted above, this is only the second attempt Rocket Lab has made to catch a rocket with a helicopter.
Future attempts could prove to be more successful, or it could push Rocket Lab to strive for a different return option. The pursuit of reusable rocket boosters has seen a lot of different looks. Some just crash into the ocean, where they are then salvaged and put back to use. SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters land on special landing pads. Suffice it to say, catching a rocket with a helicopter has never been the easiest option.
But Rocket Lab continues to try, and because of that, we’re sure that we’ll be able to see even more attempts at this in the future. Perhaps, with more successes, Rocket Lab will be able to nail down exactly how to line up those complex factors that Beck says make catching a rocket booster in mid-air so difficult. Or perhaps they’ll determine it’s just too unpredictable to rely on such a system.
Either way, I’m on board with trying to watch Rocket Lab catch a few more rocket boosters. And who knows, if we’re lucky, maybe it actually will work out, and the company will have found a new way to bring their boosters back to the ground safely.