Rocket Lab is preparing for its next launch, currently set to take place in May from its launch facility in New Zealand. The payload for the flight are two satellites to join BlackSky’s Earth observation constellation, but Rocket Lab has a secondary goal crucial to its aim of adding reusability to its Electron launch vehicle: Recovering the booster stage after its return from space.
This isn’t the first time Rocket Lab has done a booster recovery; last December, it fished one out of the sea following its aptly-named ‘Return to Sender’ mission. For this flight, dubbed ‘Running Out of Toes,’ the goal is roughly the same, but the Electron vehicle has some upgrades and modifications that will help Rocket Lab gather even more data, and make progress towards actually fully reusing one of these boosters once they get it back.
“We were very, very pleased with the condition of the [first] booster we got back with basically no modifications to any of the thermal protection systems,” Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck explained in an interview. “The way that we enter with the booster is obviously engines-first and propagate a big shockwave forward. This next flight is the next iteration where …read more
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