Following its previous attempts to catch a rocket with a helicopter, California-based company Rocket Lab will once again try the maneuver this week. To be fair, the company did pull off the catch the last time they tried. However, the helicopter experienced some issues and they had to drop the booster a few moments later. Hopefully, this newest attempt will turn out better.
Rocket Lab announced the next attempt to catch a rocket with a helicopter will come on Friday, November 4, during a launch window set to begin at 1:15 p.m. EST. The company’s Electron rocket will take off from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The mission, which is aptly named “Catch Me If You Can” will carry a satellite for the Swedish National Space Agency.
After the launch, the rocket’s first-stage engine will separate from the second stage and fall back towards the Earth. It’s during these crucial moments that the helicopter will try to catch the rocket. The maneuver is one that Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck says Electron was designed for. However, the first catch attempt earlier this year didn’t go quite as planned.
Now, though, the company hopes that it will be able to avoid the issues it ran into the first time and successfully catch the rocket this time. If it is able to successfully stop the booster from hitting the water, it will progress its reusability options quite a bit.
Making rocket boosters like this reusable has been a goal of many space agencies and space-focused companies over the years. SpaceX is another company that has successfully solved the reusability problem, landing its boosters on landing pads after each launch. But, if Rocket Lab can actually catch a rocket with a helicopter, it’ll open up new possibilities for reusing rocket boosters in the future.