How to watch Rocket Lab catch a falling booster today

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has postponed Friday’s mission due to inclement weather. It now plans to launch (and catch) on Sunday, May 1 (Monday New Zealand time). More details below.

Rocket Lab is about to make its first attempt at catching a falling booster shortly after launch.

The space company’s 26th mission – dubbed There And Back Again – will take place at Rocket Lab’s launch facility in New Zealand and may launch as early as Sunday, May 1 (Monday local time).

On previous missions, Rocket Lab has seen the booster fish out of the sea. But this time, as part of its effort to create a reusable system aimed at lowering launch costs, it will attempt to capture the first stage of its four-story Electron rocket as it plummets to Earth in a parachute-assisted descent.

“Like previous recovery missions, Electron’s first stage will perform a series of complex maneuvers designed to survive the extreme heat and forces of atmospheric reentry,” Rocket Lab said in a message on its website. “Electron will be equipped with a heat shield to protect the nine Rutherford engines from the stage and a parachute to slow Electron so that Rocket Lab’s modified Sikorsky S-92 helicopter can make it to the podium when it returns.”

The mission will also place 34 satellites in sun-synchronous orbit for a number of commercial customers, as Rocket Lab continues to build a service similar to that of rival company SpaceX.

What to expect

This week’s livestream shows the launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket and the deployment of the satellites. It will also show its helicopter trying to grab the booster from the first stage as it falls to Earth. Rocket Lab noted that viewers may experience some video loss due to the remote location of the shooting site, some 240 miles off the New Zealand coast.

If the attempt is successful, the helicopter will fly the captured part to land where Rocket Lab can assess its condition for use in a future mission.

How to watch?

Rocket Lab’s launch window for its There And Back Again mission opens on Sunday, May 1, US time (Monday in New Zealand).

Weather conditions permitting, and barring any last minute technical issues, the Electron rocket will take off from Pad A at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Island no earlier than 6:35 PM ET (3:35 PM PT). peninsula in New Zealand. Sunday; 10:35 a.m. on Monday in New Zealand.

You can watch a live stream of the launch and the booster capture attempt using the video player that will appear closer to the launch at the top of this page. Rocket Lab’s website will also livestream the same footage.

We will try to update this page with any changes to the launch schedule. Alternative, check Rocket Lab’s Twitter account for the latest information on the upcoming mission.

The company recently shared a video of a practice run in which its helicopter successfully grabbed a falling dummy booster from the sky. Now all eyes are on whether it can achieve the same success with a real booster later this week.

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