Rocket Lab, a small satellite launch company, halted the scheduled flight of an experimental military satellite for US military Sunday (March 24) due to a problem with a video transmitter.
Rocket Lab was down at 19:36. EDT (2336 GMT) launched its Electron Booster from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula when the glitch occurred, the company said in Twitter updates.
"The team has identified a low-power video channel as low as 13 dB," Rocket Lab said in a Twitter post. "It's not a problem for the flight, but we want to understand why, so we'll skip the day."
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The Electron wears the prototype R3D2 spacecraft in a test flight for the Defense Research Research Projects Agency.
The apparently "Star Wars" droid-inspired name of R3D2 is short for the demonstration of the Radio Frequency Risk Reduction demonstration. The spacecraft has a novel antenna design, which is firmly packed to take off and can spread to a span of 2.3 meters after full deployment.
The antenna consists of an ultrathin Kapton membrane that is to be tested for its communication efficiency on this flight, said DARPA representatives. The entire R3D2 satellite weighs about 330 pounds. (1
"R3D2 will monitor the antenna deployment dynamics, survivability, and radio frequency (RF) of a membrane antenna in near-Earth orbit," DARPA representatives said in a statement. "The antenna could enable multiple missions that currently require large satellites and enable communication with high data rates for disadvantaged ground users."