"Beck said that the aerodynamic loads alone would be equivalent to perching three elephants atop the Electron stack."
It's elephants, all the way up!
After SpaceX and Roscosmos announced plans to move into the burgeoning small satellite market, Rocket Lab upped the ante with details on how it would be making its own launcher, Electron, reusable. CEO and founder Peter Beck took to the stage at SmallSat 2019 to make the announcement after first telling the audience: "I find …
"We have just the thing"
Apparently we don't, as elephants are not mentioned in the relevant conversions. Fear not, dear reader, for I have done a thing for you! Three elephants are equivalent to approximately two thousand Adult Badgers (and if you've ever seen what an Adult Badger can do to a Morris Minor travelling at 32 miles per hour that will give you some indication of just how big an elephant really is. Quite big!).
Same technique as NASA investigated for recapturing a Saturn V booster: The helicopter would be gigantic. The rotor diameter would be over 120 meters. Its empty weight would be over 200,000 kilograms, with a gross weight of a whopping 453,000 kilograms. From: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3741/1
To see vid, start just before 10 minutes: https://youtu.be/joONWIGtcdY?t=583
This DOES sound insane! How would it even work? Rocket is falling down vertically, helicopter rotor blades are above it. So possible options...
- Helicopter climbs to altitude, vertical dives to match rocket speed and has a narrow window in which to approach, snag it and straighten out??
- rocket / parachute trails a line that an arm on the helicopter can recover??
- multiple helicopters hold a net between them??
All of those seem rather unfeasible / highly impractical / speculative. This sounds like something that you would roll your eyes at if seen as a stunt in a Holywood movie
EDIT - I see that the NASA proposal was 'plan B'. As I said, insane! But look like lots of fun :)
Including the corks?
Poor jokes aside this may be a recognition that smaller ELV's are not quite as cheap to make as people think.
Turns out there's a report that describe year on year performance growth of Li ion batteries. It's about 10%/year.
So cost push meets meets technology pull to move reusability along. Note also their size of stage is viable without a custom built chopper to carry it. The jokers are the severe jerk loads (parachute deployment, capture by helicopter) requiring significant mounting hardware --> substantial weight increase.
Exciting times, eh?
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019