Fingers and toes
Very much crossed... should be good
Rocket Lab is to attempt the recovery of an Electron rocket tomorrow night, snagging the booster as it descends back to Earth by parachute. The launch, which is due to take place at 2235 UTC on April 29, is the company's 26th and has been dubbed "There And Back Again" for reasons to delight both Tolkien fans and reusable …
Speaking of samples smacking into the Utah desert... the Mars Sample Return container is planned to do just that. No parachutes, nothing.
After Genesis, they thought "How do we do a backup of the parachute?" and the answer was "You don't, parachutes are about the most effective decelerator there is, by mass. anything else would weigh a ton"
"So then what do we do if the chute fails?" "Well, you can beef up the capsule to survive it"
And then they realized if you beef up the capsule that much, you don't lose anything by just deleting the parachute.
So if things work out there's going to be an earth shattering kaboom when the Mars samples come back.
Without a chute it's coming down in exactly the same way as a meteorite, so unless it has clever method to slow down* there will be a high altitude sonic boom followed by a momentum derived impact event.
To my thinking, the vehicle that will be used for Mars-Earth transit will have the ability to provide course corrections and a controlled Earth orbital insertion so why not just park it in LEO and pick it up later, they can then save the 'beefing up' launch weight on this mission.
The alternative is that they're aiming at a big 'X' in Utah from Mars orbit. This level of accuracy is crazy, the target is 65 million km away and moving faster that the vehicle you're sending, so you have to aim ahead by a few hundred million km to intercept as it overtakes the launch point. Just hitting Utah from Mars (State area is 560x435km on a rotating fast moving target) is like hitting a tyre valve on a moving car from 10km with a nerf gun.
*that would normally be the parachute it's not packing.
They're doing something in between. On the return he vehicle won't have enough delta-V remaining to fully bring it back into LEO (because that would mean schlepping a lot of fuel to Mars and back. But it will have some maneuvering fuel left. Basically when returning from Mars it'll aim to get as close as possible to the predicted trajectory, then as the spacecraft gets closer and closer to earth they use the DSN to get a more and more accurate fix on it's exact trajectory and execute a series of correction burns to get the trajectory spot on, such that when the spacecraft get's back to earth it aerobrakes sufficiently before it does it's final lithobraking maneuver. So they're not really shooting at Utah from Mars, but more shooting at earth from Mars, and then steering the projectile along the way to hit the Utah desert. Potentially they'll have some limited RCS or reaction wheel control to steer during re-entry too but I'm not sure on that
"If they make a film of this it will sound like a Huey..."
Not if, when. And yes, it undoubtedly will.
About a million years ago, I watched a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane placing a satellite dish on the roof of ::mumble:: ... Naturally, they hired a professional video crew to document this exciting day. When the 10 minute film was shown to The Board, the Sikorsky's very distinctive twin engine sound had been replaced by that of a Huey. I laughed, and got yelled at :-)