Rocket Lab declared success in its effort to catch an Electron booster in midair after launch May 2, even though the helicopter had to release the booster moments later.
NASA’s embrace of reused rockets continued with an agreement this month to switch the upcoming launch of an Earth science satellite from a new to a previously flown Falcon 9, a change whose full terms remain proprietary.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a U.S. Space Force GPS 3 satellite June 17. The rocket lifted off at 12:09 p.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
The scheduled June 17 SpaceX launch of a GPS 3 satellite will be the first national security space mission to use a refurbished Falcon 9 booster.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched another set of Starlink satellites May 26 on a launch that highlighted an often-overlooked aspect of the company’s reusability efforts.
The next launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will be the second mission where the company attempts to recover the vehicle’s first stage as part of its efforts to reuse the booster.
SpaceX launched a set of Starlink satellites May 9 on a Falcon 9 whose first stage was making its tenth flight, a long-awaited goal in the company’s reusability efforts.
A Falcon 9 booster failed to land after its most recent launch Feb. 15 because of “heat damage” it sustained, but a SpaceX official said he was confident that the boosters can be reused 10 or more times.
Rocket Lab says its attempt to recover the first stage from its latest Electron launch was a “complete success,” but that the company still has work to do before it’s ready to attempt to reuse the stage.
Rocket Lab launched its Electron rocket Nov. 19, placing nearly 30 smallsats in orbit while making its first attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage.
Rocket Lab will try to recover the first stage of its Electron rocket on its next launch as the company continues its efforts to reuse that stage.
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 18 on a mission that reused the same first-stage booster for a sixth time, setting a new record for Falcon 9 booster reuse.
Rocket Lab says it’s on track to test recovering an Electron booster later this year as it also improves the payload performance of the small launch vehicle.
Spanish launch startup PLD Space says it secured a second customer for the maiden flight of its Miura 1 reusable suborbital rocket while tackling development issues that prevented the mission from occurring last year.
Firefly Aerospace on Oct. 18 said it is collaborating with Aerojet Rocketdyne to increase the performance of its upcoming Alpha launch vehicle, and is considering Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 engine for a future launch vehicle.
The Germany space agency DLR is beginning a study this month on a reusable launcher concept that would use a winged first-stage booster captured on descent by an aircraft and towed back to land.
Recent SpaceX and Blue Origin booster landings have reignited hopes that reusability can change the economics of space activity simply by switching from expendable to reusable launch vehicles.
Spanish startup PLD Space raised 9 million euros ($10.6 million) last month from public and private investors to develop a pair of reusable launch vehicles.