Rocket Lab Helicopter Catches Falling Rocket Booster, Then Drops It

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Monday’s mission marked the first time Rocket Lab had attempted to catch a rocket booster as it made its way back from space. The company had previously recovered and analyzed three of its rocket boosters from the ocean, which informed the design of protective shielding for atmospheric re-entry.

“Bringing a rocket back from space and catching it with a helicopter is something of a supersonic ballet,” Beck said in a statement. “From here we’ll assess the stage and determine what changes we might want to make to the system and procedures for the next helicopter catch and eventual re-flight.”

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As of yesterday’s launch, Rocket Lab has now deployed a total of 146 satellites to low Earth orbit for NASA, the U.S. Space Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and others. This latest payload included satellites designed to monitor light pollution, demonstrate space junk removal technologies, and enable internet from space.

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