Friday, March 29, 2019

DARPA in Orbit

DARPA's Experimental Satellite Now in Orbit

Source:  Rocket Lab's Launch of DARPA Satellite

New Zealand's Rocket Lab
The Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA - just launched an experimental satellite that it hopes will open new possibilities around radio communications. A New Zealand based startup Rocket Lab performed the successful launch, its first for DARPA.

Experimental Satellite Testing
The satellite is designed to test out a new type of "membrane reflective-array antenna".  The purpose is to improve communications in small spacecraft.

Rocket Lab is a new comer in the space launch business, starting in 2013.  Its rocket Electron lifted off from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula. The company is building an impressive portfolio. In November 2018, Rocket Lab put six customer satellites into orbit.  It then worked with NASA on a first of a kind mission called the Venture Class Launch Services program.  And now, its Electron booster rocket with 9 Rutherford engines successfully carried DARPA's 330 pound satellite into orbit.  The historic launch happened today.

Rocket Lab plans on a rocket launch per month in 2019.  And it plans on building an Electron every week.  The main components are 3-D printed.

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