Rocket Lab to Demo Small Satellite With Membrane Antenna for DARPA Mission

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected Rocket Lab to launch a satellite as part of a program to demonstrate radio communications in small space vehicles through the use of a reflect array antenna technology.


DARPA is scheduled to launch its Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration mission with the goal to space-qualify an antenna prototype based on a very thin Kapton membrane and designed to expand up to 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low-Earth orbit., Rocket Lab said Tuesday.

The company’s Electron satellite, which weighs 330.7 pounds, will lift off at a launch complex located on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand to support the R3D2 mission. Electron is equipped with a kick stage that will deploy the R3D2 payload to a circular orbit and a second stage that will be subject to an atmospheric drag while in a highly elliptical orbit.

Rocket Lab noted the mission could support efforts to verify emerging concepts of a sensor and data transport layer that may help lay the groundwork for a space internet platform.

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