Rocket Lab to attempt launch of recycled rocket - joining SpaceX as only two companies to do so

Rocket Lab’s launch at Mahia Peninsula today isn’t the company's regular kind of space mission. 

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The company's testing out a manoeuvre that, if successful, would put it in direct competition with SpaceX. Source: Seven Sharp

The Kiwi-founded company is testing out a new manoeuvre that, if successful, would put it in direct competition with the likes of SpaceX. 

It's hoped the process will allow the company to reuse parts of its spacecrafts for future endeavours. 

Back in November, the aptly named Return to Sender blasted off from Mahia Penninsula and today it’ll be back on the launchpad jetting off into space. 

If successful, it’ll mean reusable rockets and cheaper launches will be one step closer for the company. 

It’s aiming to tightly control the re-entry of the rocket, fishing it out of the ocean in hopes of using it again. 

CEO and founder Peter Beck says if successful, the mission will give Rocket Lab “a massive competitive advantage”. 

“SpaceX is obviously doing that now and we’re the only other company that’s demonstrated successfully you can bring an orbital-stage booster back to earth. 

"This is the next step in our programme to turning this into something we don’t do just once but regularly.” 

The hardest part of today’s attempt is getting the rocket to stay within the re-entry corridor while travelling at eight times the speed of sound. 

“If we’re sort of one or two degrees out from that at all, probably a few milliseconds there’s a rocket and then there’s not,” he told Seven Sharp. 

Beck says retrieving the rocket out of the sea brings the company one step closer to catching the rocket mid-air using helicopters before it gets wet.