Rocket Lab Launches DARPAs R3D2 Experimental Satellite

first_img Rocket Lab successfully blasted DARPA’s R3D2 experimental satellite into orbit and completed its first launch of the year.On Thursday, Rocket Lab’s Electron booster lifted off from the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand at 7:27 p.m. EST, Space.com reported. Approximately 53 minutes after takeoff, the Electron booster delivered the Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) satellite into orbit, which is an experimental satellite that will be monitored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which aims to support innovative technologies that will advance national security.According to Rocket Lab’s website, the R3D2 mission “intends to space-qualify a prototype reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft.” The R3D2 antenna, which is made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, “packs tightly inside the small satellite for stowage during launch before deploying to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low-Earth orbit.”Electron’s Kick Stage is now in an elliptical parking orbit for around 40 minutes. At that time, the Kick Stage’s Curie engine will ignite and circularize its orbit before deploying the payload. pic.twitter.com/UcsCu1UHzY— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) March 28, 2019“R3D2 will monitor antenna deployment dynamics, survivability, and radio frequency (RF) characteristics of a membrane antenna in low-Earth orbit,” DARPA officials said in a press statement. “The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites, to include high data rate communications to disadvantaged users on the ground.”Lift-off of Electron for the #R3D2 mission from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at 23:27 UTC, 28 March 2019. #OpeningAccessToSpace pic.twitter.com/cTR3LT1qdp— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) March 29, 2019Rocket Lab’s DARPA experimental satellite launch was supposed to take place earlier this week, however, some bad weather and a video transmitter problem delayed the mission. Thankfully, Rocket Lab’s crews were able to make speedy repairs and prepare the Electron booster for Thursday’s successful takeoff.Rocket Lab and DARPA are expected to provide additional updates on the experimental satellite and you can learn more about the R3D2 mission here.More on Geek.com:Rocket Lab Delays Experimental DARPA Military Satellite LaunchNASA’s Mars Helicopter Passes First Test Flight With Flying ColorsHubble Space Telescope Observes Rare Self-Destructing Asteroid NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System Stay on targetlast_img

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