In order to lower costs, the Pentagon launcher vendor proposed a method to use missile capture technology to land on Earth with an aerial hook so that they could be reused.
SpaceX is testing the plan to reuse the first floor of the Falcon 9 rocket , using engines to bring it back to Earth and land on a barge floating in the Atlantic. The company launched Falcon 9 to deliver the spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 14, but the plan almost failed when the first floor of the missile hit the barge but the landing made it can't survive.
ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Group, is competing with Elon Musk's SpaceX Space Technology Corporation. This attempt to address the scientists' challenge is to cut costs with reusable missiles. Reusable missiles are not currently present in the world, when their first floor, with sophisticated electronic devices and control hardware, often burns during the period of returning to Earth or being so damaged that reusable.
The ULA began evaluating methods from about 10 years ago, to implement soft landing of missile floors on a flat surface or to mount parachutes to fall into the sea. However, they argue that the cost will be high because refurbishment will be more expensive than building a new one.
America's ULA satellite launch company surprised many rocket industry manufacturers by announcing plans to use large helicopters to catch missiles. Accordingly, helicopters with expandable beam designs will trap used engines as they plunge from the edge of space.
As planned April 13, the ULA will only regain the Vulcan rocket's two main engines . The rest of the first floor, including the fuel tank, will continue to be thrown into the sea. ULA tested the system with smaller objects such as a person floating in the sky or a weight of 340 kg. In order to recoup the Vulcan's two engines, they will need to handle similar heavy objects, about 11 tons more.
The thruster will split at an altitude of about 230 km , slowing the supersonic speed with an exaggerated heat shield. After that, they will be directed towards a helicopter waiting for a special parachute mounted GPS navigation system.
However, experts believe that the more difficult problem after the process is the period of refurbishment and persuasion so that they can continue to be launched into the sky. " Reusing the first floor of a rocket is a good start, but to save, the question is how many times the engine can be reused , " said George Torres, a former industry employee. This career, said. According to SpaceX, their Merlin engines can be used 40 times.
The ULA is confident that the Vulcan engine can be used many times , although Tory Bruno executives said he was not ready to push a model used for multiple launches. Their plan can be implemented in 2024.