Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab has announced that the company’s first effort to recover a 1st stage of its Electron rocket during a November 19th launch was a complete success.
On Rocket Lab’s latest launch Nov. 19, the rocket’s first stage made a controlled reentry after stage separation, then released a drogue and a main parachute before splashing down about 400 kilometers downrange from its New Zealand launch site, where it was recovered by a boat.
The recovery itself went as planned. “The test was a complete success,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a call with reporters Nov. 23. “The stage splashed down completely intact. What it proved to us is that this is a feasible approach, and we’re really confident that we can make Electron a reusable launch vehicle from here.”
Eventually they plan to snatch the stage out of the air using a helicopter prior to hitting the water, but are presently focusing instead on developing the proper thermal protection and attitude control systems for the flight back to Earth. They are presently taking that first stage apart and analyzing what worked and didn’t work in protecting it during that flight.
According to Beck, they will do another splashdown recovery early in ’21 to refine things. They also hope to reuse some of the recovered components from both splashdown tests on later flights.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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