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Rocket Lab catches and releases booster in Electron flight
Posted: Sun, May 8, 2022, 9:22 AM ET (1322 GMT)
Electron booster before catch, May 2022 (Rocket Lab) In a case of launch vehicle catch-and-release, Rocket Lab briefly caught a descending Electron booster after a launch Monday, only to drop it into the ocean moments later. The Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch site at 6:49 pm EDT (2249 GMT) on a mission called "There and Back Again" by the company. The rocket's first stage, descending under a parachute, was grabbed by a hook attached to a helicopter about 15 minutes later, but "different load characteristics" than expected led the helicopter pilot to release the booster moments later, which then splashed down in the ocean undamaged. This test was to be the final demonstration of the system Rocket Lab planned to use to recover and reuse boosters, and the company said the test was still a "huge achievement" despite having to release the booster. The launch itself was successful, placing 34 payloads into orbit, including 24 satellites for Swarm Technologies and the first three prototype satellites for Greg Wyler's E-Space.
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