(ORDO NEWS) — Reusable rocket motors have become popular in recent times. The only way to significantly reduce startup costs is to reuse engines instead of building them from scratch every time.
A small start-up company, RocketLab, has successfully tested its new rocket that flew into space.
SpaceX has launched its Raptor engines into space several times already, but it’s not the only company looking to reuse its rockets.
RocketLab, which makes the much smaller Electron rocket, made headlines in May when it put on a spectacular show of capturing its rocket stage mid-air with a helicopter.
This was the first step for RocketLab in the transition to reusable rockets. The helicopter eventually had to throw the rocket into the ocean, where it was picked up by the ship.
Sea water is harmful to any metal if it is in it for too long. Any space system that ends up in sea water requires significant repairs later on.
Then why doesn’t Rocket Lab just land the rockets back on the pad like SpaceX does? The answer is simple – the difference in size.
The Electron, weighing 12 tons, can only launch about 300 kg into LEO, compared to the 7,700 kg that the Falcon 9 can lift.
The difference in size allows the Falcon 9 to carry enough propellant to safely land on the pad.
On the other hand, if the Electron had enough fuel to land on the cushion, then there would be no room left for the payload.
However, Electron only costs about $7.4 million per launch, and that price is expected to fall as rockets become reusable.
The company took a step in that direction by testing a rocket that was launched in May.
She underwent some repairs, and after that she successfully passed all the tests. The new Rutherford engine was also successfully tested.
This is good news for both the company and the private space industry as a whole. The next step will be to improve the mechanism for capturing the missile by helicopter, and then reuse it.
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