24/7 Space News
ROCKET SCIENCE
Rocket Lab to take big step towards Electron reusability with pre-flown engine
"Reusability for small rockets is immensely challenging as they simply don't have the fuel margins that larger rockets have to enable propulsive landing. Despite this significant technical hurdle, our team has poured relentless innovation into our reusability program and proven it's possible to bring home small rockets and run the engines as good as new. This is a major technical achievement and sets a new standard for small launch vehicles globally.
ADVERTISEMENT
Rocket Lab to take big step towards Electron reusability with pre-flown engine
by Staff Writers
Long Beach CA (SPX) Apr 20, 2023

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) is taking the next major step in evolving the Electron launch vehicle into a reusable rocket by launching a pre-flown Rutherford engine. The 3D printed engine, previously flown on the 'There and Back Again' mission launched in May 2022, has undergone extensive qualification and acceptance testing to certify it for re-flight, including multiple full mission duration hot fires where the pre-flown engine performed flawlessly and on par with a new Rutherford engine. With Rocket Lab's propulsion team now giving the engine the green light for re-flight, it will be launched on an upcoming commercial mission scheduled for lift-off in the third quarter of this year.

While the engine is ready for re-flight now, the Electron rockets scheduled for launch in the second quarter are already built with complete Rutherford powerpack assemblies so this pre-flown engine will join the production line to be integrated with an in-progress rocket. The engine is one of several recovered Rutherford engines that collectively have now been through many successful full duration hot fires to support testing and R and D efforts for recovery. The engine joins multiple systems that have been re-flown on Electron including helium press systems.

Re-flying this engine is the latest milestone in an iterative and methodical reusability program that has seen Rocket Lab recover hardware and first stages from six Electron missions to date, with the latest stage recovered on 24 March 2023 following 'The Beat Goes On' mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab has been iteratively developing and testing two recovery methods in parallel; marine recovery where Electron's first stage returns to Earth under a parachute for a soft ocean splashdown and recovery by boat, and mid-air recovery where Electron's first stage is caught in the air by a specialized helicopter as the stage descends back to Earth under parachute. Extensive analysis of returned stages shows that Electron withstands an ocean splashdown and engineers expect future complete stages to pass qualification and acceptance testing for re-flight with minimal refurbishment.

As a result, Rocket Lab is moving forward with marine operations as the primary method of recovering Electron for re-flight. This is expected to take the number of Electron missions suitable for recovery from around 50% to between 60-70% of missions due to fewer weather constraints faced by marine recovery vs mid-air capture, while also reducing costs associated with helicopter operations. Rocket Lab will assess the opportunities for flying a complete pre-flown first stage booster following the launch of the pre-flown Rutherford engine in the third quarter this year.

"Electron is already an established workhorse rocket that has been delivering frequent and reliable access to orbit for more than five years. By evolving it into a reusable launch vehicle we plan to further increase our already steadily rising launch cadence, offering more launch availability to our customers at a time when space access is severely constrained globally," said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.

"Reusability for small rockets is immensely challenging as they simply don't have the fuel margins that larger rockets have to enable propulsive landing. Despite this significant technical hurdle, our team has poured relentless innovation into our reusability program and proven it's possible to bring home small rockets and run the engines as good as new. This is a major technical achievement and sets a new standard for small launch vehicles globally.

"We're in this position thanks to our diligent engineers designing robust components and over-qualifying them from the outset of the Electron program to ensure reliability, setting them up well for reuse. We look forward to continuing to rewrite the rules of small launch through reusability, while using the extensive data and experience we're gathering along the way to inform the development of our Neutron rocket which will be an even greater step forward with a fully reusable first stage, interstage and fairing," said Beck.

Related Links
Rocket Lab
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
ROCKET SCIENCE
Stuttgart students launch self-built rocket into space
Stuttgart, Germany (SPX) Apr 19, 2023
The Hybrid Engine Development (HyEnD) student team at the University of Stuttgart spent around three years developing, manufacturing, and testing its hybrid rocket. In mid-April, the rocket will be launched into space from the Esrange rocket launch site near Kiruna in Sweden. If all goes well, the students will set a new world altitude record for student-built rockets. The hybrid rocket is 7.80 m long and weighs around 70 kg. It was built by around 60 students from the University Group HyEnD of th ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ROCKET SCIENCE
Russian cosmonauts take spacewalk outside of ISS

Northrop Grumman's S.S. Sally Ride departs International Space Station

Calnetix Technologies' high-speed blower system installed on ISS

Next-Gen suit for NASA's work for space station missions debuts

ROCKET SCIENCE
Phantom Space selects Arnhem Space Centre for new dedicated launch site

Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide propulsion for three additional Orion spacecraft

Musk forms X.AI artificial intelligence company

Rocket Lab to take big step towards Electron reusability with pre-flown engine

ROCKET SCIENCE
Making Tracks up Marker Band Valley: Sols 3803-3804

Clouds Above, Contact Science Below: Sols 3800-3802

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Sols 3805-3806

Hey Percy, look at those boulders

ROCKET SCIENCE
China's space missions break new ground

Open cooperation, China Aerospace goes to the world

A staunch supporter of China's space undertakings

Scientists reviewed the research and development of Tianzhou cargo spacecraft

ROCKET SCIENCE
DISH TV adding to fleet with new Maxar satellite order

European Space Agency chief eyes tapping private industry partners

Viasat confirms ViaSat-3 Americas set to launch

Sidus Space announces oricing of $10M Public Offering

ROCKET SCIENCE
General Atomics completes commissioning of space environmental testing chambers

Confusion reigns over flash in skies above Kyiv

NASA's 3D-printed superalloy can take the heat

Momentus launches Vigoride-6 OSV on SpaceX Transporter-7 Mission

ROCKET SCIENCE
TESS celebrates fifth year scanning the sky for new worlds

New stellar danger to planets identified by Chandra

International team discover new exoplanet partly using direct imaging

Webb peeks into the birthplaces of exoplanets

ROCKET SCIENCE
Icy Moonquakes: Surface Shaking Could Trigger Landslides

Europe's Jupiter probe launched

Europe's JUICE mission blasts off towards Jupiter's icy moons

Spotlight on Ganymede, Juice's primary target

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.