Landing rockets take away precious mass from the space system mass budget. Recovering capsules in the air from helicopters and planes equipped with hooks and winches has a long tradition since after WWII (Genesis, CORONA, etc.)
- How large can the capsule be (as a proportion of the mass and size of the recovery aircraft, and in absolute numbers for the largest aircraft out there - including helos and tiltrotor craft)?
- What are the mass savings (approximately) compared to the conventional landing mode choices (using retrorockets for soft landing, parachute all the way down without retrorockets, parachute and splash on water, parachute and use inflatable cushions)?
- How does re-entry targeting accuracy depend on the speed and maneuverability of the recovery aircraft?