Rocket Lab successfully launched its “Return to Sender” mission 10 days ago. Then, the company first tried to recover the first phase of the electron booster from the sea after this launch and now the Rocket Lab has provided a preliminary assessment of the condition of the vehicle.
In short, the company said in an update on its website, “We can’t ask for better results from our first recovery effort and the team is thrilled.” The rocket was back in such good condition, the agency added, “We will re-qualify some components and fly some parts again.”
On November 20, the rocket lab marked the first time an electron had emerged from the Pacific Ocean. The rocket was launched into the waters off the coast of New Zealand, where the small booster launched. Founder Peter Beck said the company wanted to make a first-stage health assessment and make necessary changes to the thermal-ieldal and flight software before taking the final step of capturing the medium of the electron rocket with the help of the helicopter.
Although they conducted several experiments before the mission, the company’s engineers weren’t quite sure what they would get back after experiencing an electron rocket’s temperature of 2,400 degrees Celsius and a temperature of more than 2.33km / s during its launch.
To adjust to this turbulent environment when the electron was screaming through the atmosphere, the rocket lab added a response-control-system thruster to regenerate in the first stage of re-entry. A parachute system was also added to reduce its rise in the atmosphere.
So how can the heat of a rocket withstand this situation?
“The stage has been held remarkably well,” the agency said. “The carbon composite structure was completely intact. As expected, the heat solder at the beginning of the stage at the time of re-entry caused some heat loss. It was never made for this load, but we wanted to see before we strengthened the heat solder. Our team has already begun work on upgrades for future recovery missions.
What this news release does not say is that the engine division of the rocket, with nine Rutherford engines, was fruitful at the time of re-entry. Both did not publish photos of the engine department themselves. This suggests that significant work still needs to be done to secure this area during re-entry.
“Data is great”
But it looks like Rocket Lab will probably get there. The company’s engineers are now monitoring and analyzing “every inch” in the first phase of the rescue so they can further refine its recovery systems before the next attempt. This is the next launch of the Rocket Lab – due to launch on December 12, the “Night of the Owls” mission will not be held for the Japanese earth-imaging company Synaptive.
Instead, Rocket Lab says it will wait until early 2021 to begin another recovery mission. No attempt will be made to recover by helicopter again. The goal is to collect more data. “One set of data is great, but we want to have a conservative bunch and legitimize everything a second time before moving on to the next stage of recovery,” the agency said.
Recovering the first phase of the rocket launched vertically and re-flying, Rocket Lab wants to become the second company to do so, led by SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket. Rocket Lab has now flown 16 electron missions. In December 2015, SpaceX successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on the 20th launch of the Falcon 9 rocket.
Listing images by Rocket Lab
Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.