Rocket Lab has unveiled plans to make the Electron launch vehicle’s first stage reusable for multiple future missions. The two-phase reusability approach is intended to boost the frequency of launches without the need to always produce new first stages, Rocket Lab said Tuesday.
According to the company, it will demonstrate recovery of an Electron first stage from the ocean during the first phase. The second phase will involve an airborne recovery of the first stage via a helicopter.
“Reusing the stage of a small launch vehicle is a complex challenge, as there’s little mass margin to dedicate to recovery systems,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said. “For a long time we said we wouldn’t pursue reusability for this very reason, but we’ve been able to develop the technology that could make recovery feasible for Electron,” he added.