Summary: Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the first to offer reusable rocket boosters. Both SpaceX and space tourism company Blue Origin have greatly improved a system that allows their launch vehicles to land vertically and intact for reuse, greatly reducing the costs associated with space travel.

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On Monday, aerospace company Rocket Lab partially successfully completed its mission to hijack its Electron orbital launch vehicle mid-air using a helicopter.

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The mission dubbed “Roundtrip,” launched from Pad A at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. It successfully deployed 34 satellites in space on behalf of several clients, but the real test was whether the company could pull off a new idea involving a rocket capture. booster in the air as it fell back to Earth.

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Rocket Lab took a different path. Instead of the booster landing on its own, the spent rocket deployed a drag parachute and then a larger main parachute. A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter with a hook on a long rope was sent to hook the parachute rope.

The hope was to get the booster back to earth safely, but the helicopter pilot found load characteristics different from those experienced in testing and decided to drop the booster into the ocean.

“Bringing a rocket from space and catching it with a helicopter is like a supersonic ballet,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.

“A huge number of factors must come together and many systems must work together flawlessly, which is why I am incredibly proud of the stellar efforts of our recovery team and all of our engineers who successfully completed this mission and our first production.”

Rocket Lab has recovered the booster and will send it back to the facility for analysis.