A helicopter catches a space rocket booster

The American-New Zealand company Rocket Lab has taken a big step forward in its quest to reuse its launchers – by catching one – as it falls back to Earth.

A helicopter caught the propellant mid-air as it parachuted back into the Pacific Ocean.

ANU astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker says “this is a really cool achievement”.

“The objective here is to try to capture or reuse that rocket propellant,” he told Sky News Australia.

He said a parachute had been deployed with a helicopter hanging over it to bring the rocket back.

“They weren’t entirely happy with the accuracy or quality of their input, so they released it, but it’s basically the first time they’ve done it and they pretty much got it right.

“So a very interesting way to make rockets reusable for a fairly simple type of technique.”

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