This Rocket Lab tweet says

While we won’t be attempting a mid-air capture today, for the first time a helicopter will be stationed in the recovery zone offshore to track and observe the descending stage. Today is about testing comms and tracking to refine operations for future Electron aerial captures.

and caries the image below. I've included a crop of the package carried by the helicopter and using image processing skills learned watching reruns of Star Trek and other 60's and 70's TV shows ("Enhance!") I've tried to make it easier to see.

Is this a sonar transducer used to track and map the location rocket body as it sinks to the likely shallow sea floor and to keep an eye on "prospectors" looking to salvage it? (looks like one)

Or a communications package used to track and communicate with the booster on its way from space to the ocean's surface?

Or something else entirely?

Question: What is the "recovery" helicopter for the Electron booster carrying?

enter image description here


  • $\begingroup$ I don't know, but it does look like sonar equipment. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2021 at 7:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ FYI, it's actually "Enhance!" You need the drama to activate the magic. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2021 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @RBarryYoung thanks! I actually had it that way at first, then though it might be over-the-top, but with your encouragement I've restored it :-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 18, 2021 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


It is carrying a mock Electron first stage used to test recovery operations. I believe that image was taken from a ~March 2020 drop and catch test.

Here is a Rocket Lab video of that test (note the same yellow rotor helicopter and distinctive orange parachute hardware @ ~1:00):

Associated Twitter thread

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It seems you've nailed it (yet again!) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 18, 2021 at 13:31

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