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DARPA Experimental Satellite Launched by New Zealand Based Rocket Lab

DARPA Experimental Satellite Launched by New Zealand Based Rocket Lab

The ever evolving space exploration startup, added another accomplishment to their ranks, as they successfully launched a newly developed DARPA satellite

Rocket Lab was founded as a space research and exploration startup in 2013, and they have made some rapid strides in the six years of their existence. Adding to their list of accomplishments, the company has successfully launched a newly developed prototype satellite of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s advanced research wing.

The mission achieved a successful lift-off from New Zeeland’s Mahia Peninsula, on March 28, 2019. The rocket was carrying DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) payload, as a part of NASA's Venture Class Launch Services program. The purpose of the mission is to test a new membrane-reflective array antenna system. The engineers have developed a specially designed Kapton membrane, of almost negligible thickness. Upon the vessel’s entry into the orbit, the tightly packed membrane will deployed over a diameter of over 7 feet.

Rocket Lab is breaking fast ground in aerospace machinery. In late 2018, NASA resorted to the company to provide technical solutions, and they ended up launching six satellites as a part of that mission. For the current mission, the agency made use of their electron booster engines, constituted by nine Rutherford engines, totaling to some serious firepower. The technology employed, helped achieve an effortless lift-off, with a 150 kg payload.

Although this was Rocket Lab’s first mission for 2019, they have plans to execute many more, and to expand their capacity. The company has stated that they intend to produce at least one of the electron booster engines, ever week. While it may seem like that space exploration agency has set themselves some loft standards, they may well be able to actualize them, given that a lot of the parts for the engine, can be 3-D printed. As space research gathers renewed momentum, Rocket Lab may have an integral role to play in US’s space ambitions.