Commercial launch provider Rocket Lab is counting on its first flight from 2019, an experimental satellite for the US military that you can follow online today (March 24).
A Rocket Lab Electron amplifier will launch the R3D2 satellite for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Agency. The start is scheduled at 18:30 clock at the earliest. EDT (2230 GMT) from Launch Complex 1 of Rocket Lab on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, where Monday is the local time. Rocket Lab has a four-hour launch window for the flight.
You can watch Rocket Lab launch on Space.com thanks to the company's livestream. You can also watch it directly from the Rocket Lab. The webcast will start 1
Related: Rocket Labs First Commercial Launch in Pictures
"The weather looks great for Sunday UTC," wrote Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck last week on Twitter . ,
With today's launch of the year, Rocket Lab is launching for the first time this year, hoping to be able to consistently track it through monthly flights throughout 2019. The mission has been delayed since February because DARPA has delivered the R3D2 satellite to the launch site of Rocket Lab.
The R3D2 satellite (its name is short for "Deployment Demonstration Radio Frequency Risk Reduction") is a test flight that, according to DARPA, will demonstrate a new type of space antenna. The 330 pounds. (150 kilograms) Payload is a densely packed "Membrane Reflective Antenna" made of thin, thin Kapton designed to expand to a maximum diameter of almost 2.3 meters.
"R3D2 monitors antenna delivery dynamics, survivability, and radio frequency (RF) characteristics of a membrane antenna in a near-Earth orbit," DARPA representatives wrote in a statement. "The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites, including high data rate communication for disadvantaged ground users."
The satellite took only 18 months to design and build according to DARPA.
"A successful demonstration will also help prove a smaller, faster-to-launch and lower-cost capability, allowing the Department of Defense and other users to leverage the new commercial market for small, low-cost launcher," Agency wrote.
Rocket Lab's Electron Booster is a small carrier vehicle designed to launch payloads of up to 496 pounds (225 kilograms) into near-Earth orbit The rocket has a kick stage upper stage to deliver payloads into a target orbit
In a statement issued in January, Beck said that Rocket Lab, based in Huntington Beach, California, wanted to launch DARPA's R3D2 mission.
"Rapid" Takeover of small satellite launch capabilities Government organizations like DARPA are increasingly important, "said Beck. "The ability to rapidly qualify new technologies in space and deploy space-based assets quickly and reliably is a service that previously did not exist for dedicated small satellites."