back to article Everything but the catch: '90s pop act or a successful mission for Rocket Lab?

Rounding out a successful launch this morning, Rocket Lab has made good on CEO Peter Beck's promise to do pretty much everything bar catching the returning Electron booster in the company's recovery efforts. An awful lot was riding on the mission, which placed a pair of BlackSky satellites into orbit and was dubbed "Love at …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Raises hand from back of room

    I'm sure their boffins have thought it all out - but .....

    Catching a parachute with a helicopter ?

    I'm picturing like when you run over a headphone cable with the Dyson's spinning brush head

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Raises hand from back of room

      That's one reason they were tracking it so closely. They were monitoring sink & drift rates. They can then calculate loads from that, and figure if they're in the ballpark for being feasible.

      I remember the spy satellite film canisters captured by line trailing from a plane. It's just a bigger version.

      I don't see it scaling though. There's obvious limits to how big of a thing you can catch.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Raises hand from back of room

        I think they used something like that in one fo the James Bond Movies. Bond, having (SPOILER ALERT) killed the villain (END SPOILER ALERT) is being 'friendly' with a personage of the female persuasion in a rubber dingy, and lets off a balloon which rises on a cable.

        A USAF four engined plane with two 'horns' sticking out of the front comes along and catches the cable, and therefore the dingy, Bond and and the lady.

        I cannot imagine how it would be done using a helicopter in flight though. Looking forward to the video.

        1. Oneman2Many

          Re: Raises hand from back of room

          Already tested

          https://youtu.be/HOnNYWu6onU

          Empty stage 1 weight is less that a ton.

          1. MiguelC Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Raises hand from back of room

            Great catch, but it's all hanging on the helicopter pilot's skills

            1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

              Re: Raises hand from back of room

              So, to be fair, is the helicopter

            2. Adair Silver badge

              Re: Raises hand from back of room

              https://youtu.be/bKWvsS-z9PU

              If you want to see why there are Kiwi chopper pilots with the chops and the skills to go chasing rocket boosters over the ocean, it's because it's easy money when set alongside their day job.

          2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Raises hand from back of room

            Nice tidy bit of flying. Makes very good sense to catch the drogue line. I wonder how the grabby bit works?

            Only possible icon -->

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Raises hand from back of room

          The Bond film was using the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS), a real system developed and used (successfully but not often) by the Central Intelligence Agency,

          STARS used a cable lifted by a balloon, RocketLab is using the cable between the parachute and the drogue chute.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Raises hand from back of room

      I'm picturing like when you run over a headphone cable with the Dyson's spinning brush head.

      I agree on this. For many reasons this doesn't sound like a good idea. Using a fixed wing big plane like the US did is one thing.... whirling blades overhead just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Raises hand from back of room

        Its rather obvious when you see the video above.

  2. Chris Gray 1
    Black Helicopters

    Simples

    The helicopter they use is actually a giant, genetically modified Eagle. It flips over onto its back, grabs the booster with its claws, then flips back the right way up for the actual return, resuming its helicopter disguise as it does so.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Simples

      So why don't they just use the Eagles to take the payload to Mt doom orbit in the first place?

  3. Filippo Silver badge

    It sounds far-fetched, but the same could be said for landing a rocket. As in any advanced field, the more different approaches are tried, the better. Well wishes from me.

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    We used to think bigger

    How about catching a 130tonne Saturn V booster.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: We used to think bigger

      That’s just a 12 sky crane fleet… what’s the problem?

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    Cost?

    Their primary driver was cadence if I recall Peter Beck's comments on the matter. It's not that a reused first stage is hugely cheaper, but there is a significant saving in terms of time taken to build another one, so they can launch more often.

    Don't get me wrong, I am sure that that time saving is also a cost saving, but the primary driver was to get more flights in a year, not just reduction in up front cost.

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