Reusable rocket engines have become all the rage lately, even as NASA’s continually delayed Artemis I mission attempts to launch with non-reusable technology. Realistically the only way to significantly lower launch costs is to reuse the engines rather than build them from scratch every time. Which is why every fan of space exploration should rejoice that another small start-up company, RocketLab, has successfully retested a rocket that has flown in space.Continue reading “Rocketlab Sent This Engine to Space and Then Retrieved it. A new Test Shows it’s Still Working Fine”
They Did It! Rocket Lab Uses Copter to Catch (and Release) a Rocket
Rocket Lab has just joined SpaceX in the club of space companies that can launch an orbital-class rocket booster and bring it back alive.
In a sense, the California-based company one-upped SpaceX by having a helicopter snag the first-stage booster of its Electron rocket with a cable and a hook as it floated past on the end of a parachute, 6,500 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
So what if the pilots of the customized Sikorsky S-92 helicopter had to release the booster moments later, due to concerns about the way their load was behaving as it swung from the hook?Continue reading “They Did It! Rocket Lab Uses Copter to Catch (and Release) a Rocket”
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Rocket Lab Shows off its new Reusable Neutron Rocket, due for Launch in 2024
On December 2nd, 2021, the commercial space company Rocket Lab unveiled the detailed architecture of their Neutron rocket for the first time. In a live-streamed event, the company showcased all the new elements that will make this “megaconstellation” launcher a serious contender in the coming years. These include updated details about the rocket’s design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture.Continue reading “Rocket Lab Shows off its new Reusable Neutron Rocket, due for Launch in 2024”
Another Flight for New Shepard, No Passengers This Time
Blue Origin has taken some serious steps of late to stay in the commercial space game! Ever since founder Jeff Bezos decided to step down as CEO of Amazon to focus on this brainchild of his, the company has been shaking things up and forging on ahead, hoping to become one of the most competitive and lucrative privately-owned launch services in the world. From the launchpad to the courtroom, they are making their presence felt.
Earlier today, the company completed its 17th mission (NS-17) with the New Shepard launch vehicle, a reusable vertical-takeoff and vertical-landing (VTOL) crew-rated launch vehicle designed to bring small payloads and crews to suborbital altitudes and back again safely. This was also the 8th consecutive time this particular vehicle successfully launched and returned to Earth while carrying some interesting science experiments.Continue reading “Another Flight for New Shepard, No Passengers This Time”
Relativity Space Gets a Huge Investment to Take on SpaceX With Reusable Rockets
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that competition is a great way to foster progress and innovation. If these truisms are to be believed, then the NewSpace industry is destined to benefit from the presence of Relativity Space, a commercial space company based in Los Angeles. At the same time, SpaceX founder Elon Musk should be flattered that Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone (founders of Relativity Space) are following his example.
Roughly six years ago, Ellis and Noone founded Relativity for the purpose of using new technologies to disrupt the aerospace industry. Earlier this week (Tuesday, June 8th), the company announced that it had raised an additional $650 million in private capital. This money will go towards the development of rockets that are entirely 3D-printed and fully reusable, as well as the creation of a new class of heavy launch vehicles known as the “Terran-R.”Continue reading “Relativity Space Gets a Huge Investment to Take on SpaceX With Reusable Rockets”
ESA is Working on its own Reusable Booster Stage
It’s an exciting time for space exploration! All around the world, national space agencies are sending missions to deep-space and preparing to send astronauts to orbit and the Moon. At the same time, the commercial aerospace industry (NewSpace) is expanding to include more launch providers and service new markets. These developments are adding up and making space more cost-effective and accessible.
One such development of the emergence of reusable rockets, which are reducing the cost of individuals launches down considerably. Earlier this month (Dec. 15th), the European Space Agency (ESA) contracted with aerospace giant ArianeGroup to develop a reusable rocket. As part of the Themis Program, the ESA will use this rocket to evaluate the technologies involved for potential use on future European launch vehicles.Continue reading “ESA is Working on its own Reusable Booster Stage”
Rocket Lab was Able to Catch Falling Inert Rocket Stage With a Helicopter, Continuing Their Path to Reusability
In the summer of 2017, the company Rocket Lab officially tossed its hat into the commercial aerospace (aka. NewSpace) ring with the first test flights of their two-stage Electron Rocket. Dedicated to providing cost-effective launch services for the small satellite market, the company began conducting commercial launches from their complexes in New Zealand and California using the lightweight Electron.
Looking to cut the costs associated with individual launches further, Rocket Lab has decided to pursue reusability as well. In early March, before the isolation orders were issued, the company achieved a major milestone when it conducted a successful mid-air recovery of the test stage of an Electron Rocket – which involved a helicopter catching the test stage after its parachute deployed.Continue reading “Rocket Lab was Able to Catch Falling Inert Rocket Stage With a Helicopter, Continuing Their Path to Reusability”
A Private Company in China Plans to Launch Reusable Rockets by 2021
A Chinese company is planning to launch a rocket with a reusable booster in 2021. The company is called i-Space, and the rocket is called Hyperbola-2. They’ve already developed and launched another rocket, called Hyperbola.Continue reading “A Private Company in China Plans to Launch Reusable Rockets by 2021”
Rocket Lab is Going to try to Re-use its First Stage Booster, Catching it in Mid-air With a Helicopter
In 2006, Peter Beck founded the US and New Zealand-based aerospace company Rocket Lab with the vision of reducing the costs of individual launches. Whereas companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have sought to do this through the development of reusable rockets, Beck’s vision was to create a launch service that would use small rockets to send light payloads into orbit with regular frequency.
However, in a recent statement, Mr. Beck revealed that his company plans to begin recovering and reusing the first stage of its Electron launch vehicle. This change in direction will allow Rocket Lab to further increase the frequency of its launches by eliminating the need to build first stage rockets from scratch for every individual mission.Continue reading “Rocket Lab is Going to try to Re-use its First Stage Booster, Catching it in Mid-air With a Helicopter”
SpaceX Does it Again with Second Retrieval of Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX has made some amazing accomplishments in the past few years, all of which have been in keeping with Elon Musk’s promise to cut the costs of space exploration. And with all the excitement surrounding the Starship Hopper and its first hop tests, there was one very important accomplishment that seems to have faded into the background a little.
Luckily, SpaceX reminded everyone about it this week, as the company conducted the second successful launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. But what was especially impressive this time around is the fact that they managed to retrieve all three of the Falcon Heavy’s rocket boosters, as well as the payload fairings.Continue reading “SpaceX Does it Again with Second Retrieval of Falcon Heavy Rocket”