Rocket Lab employed a test article to demonstrate a mid-air recovery maneuver for the Electron launch vehicle's first stage.
A helicopter dropped the test article to an open ocean in New Zealand and fielded a parachute to allow a separate aircraft to capture the unit at around 5K feet through the use of a grappling hook, the company said Wednesday.
The demonstration is a part of Rocket Lab's efforts to reuse Electron's first stage for future missions. The company is slated to perform a recovery test of the vehicle's first stage on an ocean downrange near Launch Complex 1 at New Zealand.
"Electron has already unlocked access to space for small satellites, but every step closer to reusability is a step closer to even more frequent launch opportunities for our customers," said Peter Beck, founder and chief executive at Rocket Lab.