Watch Rocket Lab launch 30 satellites and attempt to recover a rocket for the first time live

It has a secondary mission that’s potentially more important for Rocket Lab and the launch business in general, however: an attempted recovery of the first-stage booster used during the flight.

This is the first time that Rocket Lab will attempt to recover one of its launch vehicle first stages, and it’s significant in part because the company never intended to do this.

All that changed with the surprise announcement last year that Rocket Lab would be aiming to introduce partial reusability into its existing system .

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck explained during his presentation describing the reusability system that it would not involve a propulsive landing, like the kind used by SpaceX, but would instead use a navigation and guidance system to reorient the booster such that it would survive re-entry through an angled descent back into Earth’s atmosphere, and then deploy a parachute to slow it to the point where it could be caught by a helicopter and transported back to land.

The helicopter catch component, which Rocket Lab has demonstrated in a prior partial test, won’t be part of today’s activities.

The recovery attempt will be what most watchers are focused on today, but this mission has 30 total satellite payloads, and will carry a 3D-printed gnome from Valve’s Gabe Newell , which is a tech demo for new manufacturing techniques with potential space-based applications.

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