Rocket Lab revealed that its first mission of 2019 will be a dedicated launch of a 150kg satellite for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) mission is scheduled for launch in late February and intends to space-qualify a prototype reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft.
The mission, the first of monthly Electron launches this year, will lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula of New Zealand. The mission could help validate emerging concepts for a resilient sensor and data transport layer in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) – a capability that does not exist today, but one which could revolutionize global communications by laying the groundwork for a space-based internet.
“Rapid acquisition of small satellite launch capabilities is increasingly important to US Government organizations like DARPA. The ability to rapidly space-qualify new technology and deploy space-based assets with confidence on short notice is a service that didn’t exist for dedicated small satellites until now,” says Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Beck. “We’re honored to provide Electron’s agile and flexible launch service to DARPA and we look forward to delivering the innovative R3D2 payload to orbit.”