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Summary (IA Generated)
New Zealand-born launch provider Rocket Lab took a step towards making its launch vehicles reusable today with the safe splashdown and recovery of an Electron booster after it successfully took its payload to orbit.
Reusing the first stage of launch vehicles — that is to say, the booster that takes the payload from the ground to the edge of space, where a second stage takes over — has the potential to vastly reduce the cost of getting to orbit.
SpaceX first demonstrated recovery of its Falcon 9 rockets in 2015, landing one on a drone ship after several failed attempts with other launches.
A used first stage was first re-launched in 2017.
Instead of the complex propulsive controlled landing of the Falcon 9, the booster would descend safely under a parachute, and be intercepted and captured by a helicopter before splashdown.
According to a press release from Rocket Lab sent after the launch, the descent and recovery went exactly as planned:.
Rocket Lab’s recovery team will transport the stage back to Rocket Lab’s production complex, where engineers will inspect the stage to gather data that will inform future recovery missions.
“What the team achieved today in recovering Electron’s first stage is no mean feat.
It took a monumental effort from many teams across Rocket Lab, and it’s exciting to see that work pay off in a major step towards making Electron a reusable rocket,” said Beck.
The recovery crew is securing Electron’s first stage and preparing to bring it back via ship to our production complex.