Rocket Lab announced in August to debut its reusable rocket business, and the company has now launched the Electron rocket in a memorable way. In addition to testing its first-stage rocket reuse technology. the maiden flight has launched seven satellites, including a small Japanese spacecraft designed to create artificial meteor showers.
This mission was originally scheduled to take off in New Zealand on November 25, but it got a little delayed and finally happened today. This is Rocket Lab’s tenth launch in all, the sixth in 2019 alone. The company manages to recover the first stage as intended.
The first stage of the mission in question will have a handful of sensors and navigation equipment, as well as a control system that will allow the auxiliary rocket to orientate itself as it descends to the surface. The main goal is “to see if we can bring it back from space into the atmosphere without breaking or crumbling,” said Lars Hoffman, senior vice president of global launch services at Rocket Lab.
However, Rocket Lab’s approach to rocket recovery will be quite different from that used by SpaceX or Blue Origin: the Electron will parachute down and will be caught by a helicopter, which will then take it to a deep-sea boat.
The other six satellites to be launched on the Electron rocket are the ATL-1, a Hungarian spacecraft that will test a new thermal insulation material; FossaSat-1, a Spanish communications satellite that fits in the palm of your hand; NOOR 1A and NOOR 1B, US communications satellite; SMOG-P from Hungary, which will measure electromagnetic pollution; and TRSI Sat, by ACME AtronOmatic, a company that provides aviation flight tracking services.