News & Events

Rocket Lab launches DARPA research satellite

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket climbed into orbit from New Zealand Thursday (U.S. time) with an experimental payload for a U.S. military research and development agency to demonstrate the performance of a compact, deployable antenna that could expand the communications capabilities of future small satellites.

The 55-foot-tall (17-meter) rocket, powered by nine kerosene-fueled 3D-printed Rutherford main engines, fired off its launch pad on New Zealand’s North Island at 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT) after a four-day delay to allow time for crews to replace a video transmitter and wait for improved weather conditions.

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DARPA Prototype Reflectarray Antenna Offers High Performance in Small Package

RF Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration targeted for launch in late February to space-qualify a new membrane reflectarray antenna, which stows tightly for launch and deploys to full size in orbit

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DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) is set for launch in late February to space-qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna. The antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, packs tightly for stowage during launch and then will deploy to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit.

R3D2 will monitor antenna deployment dynamics, survivability and radio frequency (RF) characteristics of a membrane antenna in low-Earth orbit. The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites, to include high data rate communications to disadvantaged users on the ground. A successful demonstration also will help prove out a smaller, faster-to-launch and lower cost capability, allowing the Department of Defense, as well as other users, to make the most of the new commercial market for small, inexpensive launch vehicles. Satellite design, development, and launch took approximately 18 months.

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Trident Systems Selected to Develop Payload for Highly Competitive DARPA Blackjack Program

Trident Systems awarded contract by DARPA Tactical Technology Office in payload segment of the Blackjack Program.


Trident Systems, headquartered in Fairfax Virginia, has been awarded a contract by the DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO) in the highly competitive payload segment of the Blackjack Program. Blackjack has become one of the most talked about DoD space projects as it is a significant departure from the norm, combining highly networked, resilient and persistent DoD payloads on affordable commercial small satellite busses.

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