Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab unveils plans to recover its rockets midair with helicopters

An animation of how Rocket Lab’s recovery process will work | Image: Rocket Lab

Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab is following in the footsteps of rocket behemoth SpaceX with plans to make its rockets reusable. But Rocket Lab won’t be landing its vehicles in the same fashion as SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Instead, the company plans to catch its rockets in mid-air with a helicopter after they’ve fallen back to Earth.

Rocket Lab announced these plans today at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah. The company says the goal is to increase the frequency of launches of its primary rocket, called the Electron. By saving the vehicles when they return to Earth, Rocket Lab hopes to turn them around and re-launch them again as soon as possible. And that shouldn’t be too difficult since some of the vehicle’s machinery runs on…

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