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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches DARPA Satellite

By | March 29, 2019
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket on the launch pad. Photo: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket on the launch pad. Photo: Rocket Lab

A Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 23:27 UTC on March 28. The mission launched a prototype reflect array antenna to orbit for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA’s R3D2 mission was launched just over 18 months from conception — a reduction in traditional government launch acquisition timeframes.

According to the release, Rocket Lab is the only fully commercial small satellite launch service provider in operation. The Rocket Lab team has delivered 25 satellites to orbit, including new space technologies that provide capabilities such as weather monitoring, Earth Observation (EO), and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. The R3D2 mission was Rocket Lab’s first of 2019, and the company is currently producing one Electron launch vehicle every 30 days across its Huntington Beach, California, and Auckland, New Zealand, production facilities.

“Congratulations to our dedicated team for delivering another important and innovative asset to space — on time and on target. The unique requirements of this mission made Electron the perfect launch vehicle to lift R3D2 as a dedicated payload to a highly precise orbit,” said Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Beck. “Thank you to our mission partners. We look forward to continuing to provide frequent, reliable and rapidly-acquired launch services for innovative small satellites.”