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flyingturtle
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Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:11 am

(I didn't find a thread dedicated to the Kiwis in Space, so I start one. Please remove if duplicated.)


Rocket Labs just announced that they want to reuse the first stage of their Electron launcher. With some clever aerobraking they want to manage heat, and a helicopter will fetch the first stage while it is descending on parachutes.

Adding the capability will eat 10 to 20 percent of the Electron's payload, but they want to recover that by developing the first stage further.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/08/0 ... lab_reuse/
 
Trololzilla
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:26 am

Older thread here, but it probably makes more sense to have a general RocketLab thread from now on.
 
WKTaylor
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:56 pm

I thought that their business concept was to build the 1st stages [and any boosters] cheap-enough that recovery and refurbishment was not 'value added' or 'value saved'.
 
WKTaylor
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:57 pm

I thought that their business concept was to build the 1st stages [and any boosters] cheap-enough that recovery and refurbishment was not 'value added' or 'value saved'.
 
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Tugger
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:56 pm

WKTaylor wrote:
I thought that their business concept was to build the 1st stages [and any boosters] cheap-enough that recovery and refurbishment was not 'value added' or 'value saved'.

Well, two things:
An aluminum can is really cheap, but it is still of value to recycle.
And, recovery allows designers to look at what they made and improve on it. Make it cheaper, more efficient, more effective, etc. One and done and you don't get to inspect the results of "what happened" vs "what was intended".

Tugg
 
WKTaylor
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:24 pm

Tugger...

IF inspecting and/or recycling, then let the 1st stage parachute into the ocean and pop-open flotation bags for water-recovery.

Speculation... Adding light-weight grid-fins [and/or] controllable speed-brakes [petals] [and/or] hypersonic 'ballute(s)' to the upper end of the stage would provide dramatic drag-rise and allow limited aerodynamic steering of the stage body to a guided landing 'spot'... much closer to shore... or the most 'tranquil' water-site... and-or landing close-to' a recovery ship.

HMmmmm.. I wonder if the trans-stage ring/fairing could be redesigned and dual-utilized to add drag and/or recovery guidance... instead of 'just' being jettisoned?

Using a heavy helo for 'airborne recovery' is a sketchy proposition.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Aug 31, 2020 4:32 pm

After a failure on their 13th mission, Rocket Lab has rapidly isolated the problem (as mentioned below), fixed it and had a successful 14th launch;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPIhI5mRDRI

They are working towards parachute and helicopter recovery for future first stages.
 
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Erebus
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:35 pm

They name their missions with rather eccentric phrases. Sounds like a very SpaceX thing that SpaceX never does. :mischievous:
 
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Sep 01, 2020 12:54 pm

WKTaylor wrote:
Using a heavy helo for 'airborne recovery' is a sketchy proposition.


Indeed. I'll be interested to see how that goes.
 
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Erebus
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:16 pm

AirlineCritic wrote:
WKTaylor wrote:
Using a heavy helo for 'airborne recovery' is a sketchy proposition.


Indeed. I'll be interested to see how that goes.


I think it should be doable. They've already tested the helicopter recovery part of it. Probably the bigger challenge is how to get the first stage to survive the stresses of reentry. This is a very compact rocket and they don't get a lot of weight margin to work with the payloads they launch.
 
Trololzilla
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:13 am

Well, it's a bit of an unorthodox thing but apparently Valve partnered with Weta Workshop and Rocket Lab to build and launch a titanium Gnome Chompski into space (sort of) today (Nov. 19) as part of Rocket Lab's "Return to Sender" launch as an homage to Half Life 2: Episode 2 while Gabe Newell is sequestered in New Zealand.

Source 1
Source 2

Some other highlights of the launch:

Return to Sender’ will deploy 30 satellites to a 500 km circular LEO

For the first time, Rocket Lab will also attempt to bring Electron’s first stage back from space under a parachute for a water landing. The mission will be the first time Rocket Lab has attempted to recover a stage after launch and is a major milestone in Rocket Lab’s pursuit to make Electron a reusable rocket to support an increased launch cadence for small satellite missions.

For every person who watches the live launch webcast via http://www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream, Valve’s Gabe Newell will donate $1 to Starship children’s hospital


So tune in to the live stream to support a good cause.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:22 pm

It looks like Rocket Lab is ready to step up to the big boys league and give SpaceX a run for their money with a larger launcher:

https://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-to-go- ... ft-rocket/

Funding will involve a merger and means that Rocket Lab will go public.

Here's Rocket Lab's own video introducing the new rocket, featuring their CEO; Peter Beck:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agqxJw5ISdk

It will be called Neutron, will have an 8T LEO capability and will be aimed squarely at the constellation sat market, though interestingly, Peter mentions that it will be man-rated, hinting at even more exciting stuff...

I didn't think they'd venture into that market, given that they seemed to have found a nice niche within the small launcher market and that they themselves vehemently denied they ever would go larger until fairly recently (hence Peter eating his hat).
Risky move for a small company in an increasingly competitive and fickle industry... I wish them well.
Last edited by Francoflier on Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:36 pm

Best of luck to them, the more the merrier, not in the same way as Elon/Space X but RocketLab are also charismatic, innovative, excellent at media outreach.
With at their original NZ pad, the most picturesque launch site.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:24 pm

https://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/u ... eployment/

It's a shame no NZ launches. Instead it will be Wallops. Like, I understand why. But I'd have loved to have had launches of a rocket this size just a half day drive away.
 
texl1649
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:50 pm

Pretty tough not to like Peter, eating his hat. Good showmanship, and they’ve run a pretty good operation from what I can tell. Additive processes seem to be quite involved a la Relativity, also, but not quite that much. Launching from Virginia I certainly don’t get but as indicated I’m sure there are reasons for it.

This is a huge step for them, and I will be cheering quietly for their success.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:41 am

texl1649 wrote:
Launching from Virginia I certainly don’t get but as indicated I’m sure there are reasons for it.


I have a feeling they just want to save money by using the supporting infrastructure already built at Wallops rather than building all of it from scratch in NZ. They are also entering a game in which it is important to have major suppliers and supporting industries nearby rather than halfway across the World. Isolation makes NZ a unique nation, but it has its downsides.
In fact, it feels like when SpaceX left Kwajalein atoll to establish its F9 operations back in the US.

I'm also guessing they are entering a market that does not require very unorthodox orbital planes like the one they are able to achieve down under. Just your run-of-the-mill mid-range, prograde inclinations should be plenty for what they have in mind.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Wed Mar 03, 2021 5:30 am

Here's Scott Manley's take on it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFdVv4Sau7E

He raises the valid point that this new rocket seems eerily similar to Antares in size and payload and will launch from the same facility.
If Northrop Grumman wanted to replace the mostly foreign-built Antares with a locally developed and built vehicle, maybe due to political pressure to do so, as well as adding partial reusability and man-rating to potentially launch crew capsules to the ISS to compete with SpaceX, they could do much worse than asking Rocket Lab to do such a rocket for them...
:scratchchin:
 
zanl188
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Dec 04, 2021 1:47 pm

 
zanl188
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Dec 04, 2021 1:48 pm

 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:54 am

Peter Beck went on an interview binge recently on the topic of Neutron.

A heap of really good questions and detail you only get when talking to industry enthusiasts.

Tim Dodd - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcuOSXjevGs
NASA Spaceflight - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNx4tpiyUAM
Scott Manley - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVjYHLQtJUE
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Mar 01, 2022 11:52 pm

First launch from the new Pad B in New Zealand, 25th launch in total. Details of the pad early in the webcast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjfNJjTyfKY
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon May 02, 2022 11:09 pm

Rocket Lab has successfully retrieved the booster!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nODVPGHQcc

Elon Musk is gonna need a bigger chopper... :old:
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 2:02 am

Looks like the crew weren't happy with how the booster was acting so dropped it. So not a perfect win, just an almost perfect win.
 
Avatar2go
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 6:06 am

Said the loads on the helicopter were greater than expected, so as a precaution, they let it go for secondary splashdown and retrieval. But still a major success. They will improve on that and showed the idea is viable.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 6:04 pm

Avatar2go wrote:
Said the loads on the helicopter were greater than expected, so as a precaution, they let it go for secondary splashdown and retrieval. But still a major success. They will improve on that and showed the idea is viable.


Yes, just watched the webcast after seeing a headline, Space X had plenty of near misses, in fact they did a tribute video of them.
Still, the he pilot dropped the booster near the secondary recovery ship so they’ll have it soon enough to inspect.
 
Avatar2go
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 6:11 pm

GDB wrote:

Yes, just watched the webcast after seeing a headline, Space X had plenty of near misses, in fact they did a tribute video of them.
Still, the he pilot dropped the booster near the secondary recovery ship so they’ll have it soon enough to inspect.


Actually they posted photos of the heat shield on recovered booster late last night. Looked to be in good shape.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 6:25 pm

Avatar2go wrote:
GDB wrote:

Yes, just watched the webcast after seeing a headline, Space X had plenty of near misses, in fact they did a tribute video of them.
Still, the he pilot dropped the booster near the secondary recovery ship so they’ll have it soon enough to inspect.


Actually they posted photos of the heat shield on recovered booster late last night. Looked to be in good shape.


Good to know, it wasn't possible for me to view live this time.
Of course the main mission was successful and a new RocketLab record of 34 satellites in one launch.
 
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Nomadd
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 7:05 pm

GDB wrote:
Avatar2go wrote:
Said the loads on the helicopter were greater than expected, so as a precaution, they let it go for secondary splashdown and retrieval. But still a major success. They will improve on that and showed the idea is viable.


Yes, just watched the webcast after seeing a headline, Space X had plenty of near misses, in fact they did a tribute video of them.
Still, the he pilot dropped the booster near the secondary recovery ship so they’ll have it soon enough to inspect.


SpaceX didn't cut away and try to present the landings as successes for several hours when they crashed.
 
Avatar2go
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue May 03, 2022 7:16 pm

Nomadd wrote:

SpaceX didn't cut away and try to present the landings as successes for several hours when they crashed.


Don't think there was any intent to deceive. They broke away due to the long delay for the last sat activation, and displayed a graphic of the orbital vehicle trajectory. When they came back on awhile later, they updated the status of both the sats and the catch, then signed off.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Aug 01, 2022 11:04 pm

They are getting some significant contracts for a young company, considering the customer;
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... ew-zealand

The previous launch;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Nphz4f9oY&t=274s

And a nice rendering of their planned Neutron rocket;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsUxlVh6b8Q
Last edited by GDB on Mon Aug 01, 2022 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Avatar2go
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Aug 01, 2022 11:08 pm

GDB wrote:
They are getting some significant contracts for a young company, considering the customer;
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... ew-zealand

The previous launch;


CAPSTONE was a major success for them, since the vehicle performed well, right on the edge of the design, and opened the door for small extra-orbital missions. Overall it was quite impressive.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do with the Neutron rocket.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Aug 04, 2022 5:42 pm

Another NRO away;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij94xGiXB5Q

SpaceX and Rocketlab provide the most accessibly watchable launches, with the added almost surreal touch of commentary and countdown in New Zealand accents.
(Reminds me of a pub off Soho in London, late 1990's it was Kiwi Central).
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Aug 04, 2022 8:41 pm

GDB wrote:
Another NRO away;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij94xGiXB5Q

SpaceX and Rocketlab provide the most accessibly watchable launches, with the added almost surreal touch of commentary and countdown in New Zealand accents.
(Reminds me of a pub off Soho in London, late 1990's it was Kiwi Central).


As a kiwi, hearing that accent in the countdown always make me laugh. Tin, nuin, ate, saven, sex, fuiv.... and so on. Quite jarring when you've been used to only hearing American, French, or Russian accents for countdowns your whole life.
 
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Kiwirob
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:41 pm

GDB wrote:
Another NRO away;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij94xGiXB5Q

SpaceX and Rocketlab provide the most accessibly watchable launches, with the added almost surreal touch of commentary and countdown in New Zealand accents.
(Reminds me of a pub off Soho in London, late 1990's it was Kiwi Central).


The Polar Bear, it morphed into a gay bar around 98 and It’s now called the KU.
 
GDB
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Aug 05, 2022 5:33 pm

Kiwirob wrote:
GDB wrote:
Another NRO away;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij94xGiXB5Q

SpaceX and Rocketlab provide the most accessibly watchable launches, with the added almost surreal touch of commentary and countdown in New Zealand accents.
(Reminds me of a pub off Soho in London, late 1990's it was Kiwi Central).


The Polar Bear, it morphed into a gay bar around 98 and It’s now called the KU.


Don't recall that one, around 97-98, didn't quote a name as I wasn't sure, Crown and Two Chairmen the more I think about it, certainly went in there.
Right location and certainly it looks 'restored' since then, don't recall any media types, it being a place known for food (common enough now for survival), though the upstairs bar was full of Kiwis.
https://www.designmynight.com/london/pu ... o-chairmen
 
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Kiwirob
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Re: Rocket Labs - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:13 pm

GDB wrote:
Kiwirob wrote:
GDB wrote:
Another NRO away;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij94xGiXB5Q

SpaceX and Rocketlab provide the most accessibly watchable launches, with the added almost surreal touch of commentary and countdown in New Zealand accents.
(Reminds me of a pub off Soho in London, late 1990's it was Kiwi Central).


The Polar Bear, it morphed into a gay bar around 98 and It’s now called the KU.


Don't recall that one, around 97-98, didn't quote a name as I wasn't sure, Crown and Two Chairmen the more I think about it, certainly went in there.
Right location and certainly it looks 'restored' since then, don't recall any media types, it being a place known for food (common enough now for survival), though the upstairs bar was full of Kiwis.
https://www.designmynight.com/london/pu ... o-chairmen


Pretty sure it’s the Polar Bear you’re referring to, it was the only Kiwi bar in Soho of not all of London at the time.

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