Rocket Lab is aiming for a rapid launch cadence in 2019, and look to begin that campaign with the first Electron launch of the year. The window to launch the R3D2 mission for DARPA opens today at 22:30 UTC and lasts four hours. Daily launch opportunities continue until March 30.
The Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration satellite is a technology demonstration mission for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the United States government’s military technology development agency. The mission will be the first Electron launch dedicated to a single satellite on board, lofting the 150 kg spacecraft into a circular orbit, inclined 39.5 degrees, at an altitude of 425 km.
R3D2’s mission is to qualify a prototype membrane reflect-array antenna, designed to improve radio communications in small spacecraft. On board is a compacted Kapton membrane antenna built by MMA Design, which deploys to 2.25 meters in diameter once in orbit.
DARPA hopes R3D2 will validate concepts for space-based internet as well as communications capabilities for the United States Department of Defense. Radio systems aboard R3D2 were built by Trident Systems, and the payload is mounted on a spacecraft bus built by Blue Canyon Tech. Northrop Grumman is the mission’s ...