Rocket Lab is about to provide a media update on the initial results/data of the successful recovery of the #Electron first stage on the #ReturnToSender mission.

Thread: 1/x
Peter Beck notes it's still early days. Stage back less than 48 hours. Really just starting to dissect everything. TEST COMPLETE SUCCESS... even more than we set out to do on this mission. This proved it is feasible and Electron CAN BE MADE REUSABLE! 2/x
Beck: Stage oriented itself and controlled heating very well. Recovery systems and pilot chutes deployed at Mach 2. Drogues slowed it down, and then mains "deployed lovely." Impacted ocean at 9 m/s, 1 m/s slower than expected. 3/x
Beck: Splashed down right where expected. 5 m ocean swells coming back in. "Pretty lively event." Pretty tough recovery out there." Came through entry just fine; got beat up a little by ocean. 4/x
Beck: Plan now to break down stage and really look at it to see how it faired. Cutting sections out and doing material testing. Will be pulling equipment off to start process of re-qualifying for re-flight. 5/x
Beck: First we start re-flying components, then entire stages. Next recovery mission is "early next year." Will be largely the same with improved thermal protection system.
Now have standard interstages with recovery equipment being made. 6/x
Beck: Big take away is "we're really confident Electron can become a reusable launch vehicle, which prior to this test we kinda of thought it would be, but now we know we can pull it off." 7/x
Beck: Will continue to splashdown in ocean until we have really clean boosters and good data on entry dynamic. We don't want to put lives [of recovery teams in helicopter] in jeopardy. 8/x
Beck: Absolutely intention to refly components from this stage once re-qualified for flight. 9/x
Beck: Wow. "Steel containers welded to deck of ship started breaking loose" in the 5m swells the recovery teams faced on the way back. 10/x
Beck: Good telemetry received by recovery ship during descent, even after ground stations were having trouble keeping the comm lock as the booster went over the horizon from land. 11/x
Beck. Adding recovery will likely result in 15-20kg upmass hit to performance (negligible). Electron will continue to fly in both reusable and expendable configurations depending on mission needs. 12/x
Beck: Talking about weather in recovery zone potential delaying launches. "Have been monitoring weather; some times of year are worse than others. Going into this with open eyes." 13/x
Beck: Heat shield did better than thought given it wasn't designed for this. But things in powerpack are pretty roasty -- which was expected. Next big piece of work is on that heat shield to carry the loads... which they now know. 14/x
Beck: Engines will likely NOT be reused from this mission. "Unfair to the engines given the ride they had to ask them to go again." 15/x
Beck: A lot of iteration along the way. With any well-designed thing, it looks as it should at the end because of the work to design it over time. 16/x
Beck: Design goal is to pluck it from the sky, put it on the pad, charge up the batteries, and fly it again. 17/x
Beck: How this will help increase manifest throughput depends on how much refurbishment is needed between flights. 18/x
Beck: Even just being able to reuse it once is a huge help to production, but obviously don't want to have a booster recovered that needs just as much work as a newly built stage. Right now, they're building 1 Electron every approx. 30 days. 19/x
Beck: Would love to refly a vehicle next year, but the data and condition of stage. 20/x
Beck: Enjoying the freedom of the LC-1 New Zealand range. Getting the right windows etc is easier there for recovery ship position. Once we get it all down pat, we'll expand recovery ops to Wallops. Have a good helicopter pilot there ready to go. 21/x
Beck: If reusability can get to a point of "light touch" between flights, then the economics change. Not going to guess what those are going to be. Majority of Electron cost is in stage 1. If you can shift economics of that, then you've shifted economics for the vehicle. 22/x
Beck: Super encouraged with what we have. Elements on this stage still look like new (but requal awaits). Things that are are "less great" they knew in some regards and learned good information on others. 23/x
Whoa. Did not know Rocket Lab helicopters some of its folks to the launch pad. #CoolCommute. 24/x
Beck: 80-20 rule... "80% of the way there, but final 20% contains 80% of the work." Would love to get to full reuse next year; but been around long enough to now not to guess about timelines. 25/x
Beck: Don't know exactly how this affects production. Lots left to learn. Flights at this point are not committed to re-flown boosters. 2021 manifest is currently based on Electron build cadence. 26/x
Beck: Downrange we'll have a ship and helicopter based on the ship. Stage 1 will transmit its real-time "impact point," which changes as the stage reenters. Boundaries to that are really small (a few kilometers of where previous test boosters have landed). 27/x
Beck: Helicopter will take off from ship at same time Electron launches. Helicopter will use the data from the stage to fly to it and grab it. If stage recovery systems fail, helicopter is safe as stage will impact far away from where planned if parachutes don't deploy. 28/x
Beck: Thermal Protection System on interstage performed very well. Base heat shield was not the one they'll design for entry and full recovery missions. 29/x
Beck: Can still thermally mitigate entry heating by trimming reentry corridor to keep the dense thermal curtain farther away from the vehicle. 30/x
Beck: We have no one looking at second stage recovery. 31/x
And that wraps it up for #Electron recovery update on the #ReturnToSender mission. 32/32

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