Hiller Aircraft Company was founded in 1942 as Hiller Industries by Stanley Hiller to develop helicopters.A giant helicopter, with a rotor diameter bigger than the length of a football field. It would be capable not only of transporting a Saturn five S-1C first stage to the launch site – but of actually catching it in midair as it fell on a parachute – ready to be reused.
This is one of the biggest mind boggoling space concepts that was never built – developing a reusable rocket technology – but in the 60s. This size would have a huge eight of 450,000 pounds and with his huge rotors, be able to carry 550,000 pounds a total, for those playing along at home, with a gross weight of 1 million pounds – impressive ideed.
Watch the 3D animato video from Escape Velocity.So how exactly did this helicopter, or flying tug boat, – catch – a rocket in midflight. well hold on, because this ride is about to get real bumpy – yee ha!When the rocket was fired, the helicopter would take to the skies from a nearby airbase. It would fly to the zone that the booster, the S-1C, would land, and lotier in the area for up to six hours with its large fuel tanks – hovering at around 15,000 to 20,000 feet (4,500–6,000 meters).
When the booster seperated and began its decent,it would deploy a sort of double tandum parachut, the upper section would have a hook. The air tug would approach the decending rocket, and meet it at around 10,000 feet (3,000 meters). At this point the rocket would be descending along a glide path with more forawrd than doward velocity, making it perfect for a intercept by the helicopter.