Rocket Lab has launched three research-and-development satellites for the Department of Defense's Space Test Program under a contract with the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Innovation Unit.
The company said Sunday its Electron rocket lifted off Sunday in the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, as part of the STP-27RD mission to demonstrate new approaches for monitoring space debris.
The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and DIU selected Rocket Lab to carry out the mission via the Pentagon's Rapid Agile Launch Initiative.
The three satellites weigh a total of 396.8 pounds and reached their designated orbits 54 minutes after liftoff, the company noted.
The Space Plug and Play Architecture Research CubeSat-1 is designed to explore technological advancements in the avionics miniaturization, space situational awareness and software-based radio areas.
The Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment looks to assess ground-based tracking of space objects and the small Harbinger satellite seeks to demonstrate the potential of an experimental commercial platform to address DoD's space technology requirements.
Sunday's launch brings the number of satellites the company has deployed to 28.