Technology

Rocket Lab working on a reusable booster

File photo of the Electron rocket about to launch from the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand, Thursday, May 25, 2017.

File photo of the Electron rocket about to launch from the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand, Thursday, May 25, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AP

If successful, it would make it the second company after Elon Musk’s SpaceX to reuse an orbital-class rocket booster.

Small-satellite launch firm Rocket Lab plans to recover the core booster of its Electron rocket using a helicopter, a bold cost-saving concept that, if successful, would make it the second company after Elon Musk’s SpaceX to reuse an orbital-class rocket booster.

“Electron is going reusable,” Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said during a presentation in Utah, showing an animation of the rocket sending a payload into a shallow orbit before speeding back through Earth’s atmosphere.

The Auckland-based company is one of a growing cadre of launch companies looking to slash the cost of sending shoebox-sized satellites to low Earth orbit, building smaller rockets and reinventing traditional production lines to meet a growing payload demand.

Electron, which has flown seven missions so far, can send up to 225 kg into space for roughly $7 million. Medium-class launchers such as Los Angeles-based Relativity Space can send up to 1,000 kg into space for $10 million while Texas-based firm Firefly can do it for $15 million.

Unlike SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which reignites its engines to land steadily back on Earth, Rocket Lab’s Electron will deploy a series of parachutes to slow its fall through the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 10:47:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/rocket-lab-working-on-a-reusable-booster/article28872508.ece

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