Home / Science / Rocket Lab to start R3D2 prototype for DARPA today! Here's how you look.

Rocket Lab to start R3D2 prototype for DARPA today! Here's how you look.

The commercial launch provider Rocket Lab counts down to its first flight of 2019, an experimental US military satellite, and you can see it live online today (March 24).

A Rocket Lab Electron booster starts the R3D2 satellite for DARPA, the Advanced Research Agency for Defense Forces. Liftoff is set for early than 6:30 pm EDT (2230 GMT) from Rocket Labs Launch Complex 1 on Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand, where it will be Monday local time. Rocket Lab has a four-hour flight window.

You will be able to watch the Rocket Lab launch at Space.com, licensed by the company's life stream. You can also look directly from Rocket Lab here. Webcast starts 15 minutes before liftoff, and can begin later in the launch window if needed.

Related: Rocket Lab's first commercial launch in pictures

"The weather looks great for Sunday UTC" wrote Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck on Twitter last week .

Today's liftoff marks this year's first launch for Rocket Lab, which hopes to follow it with monthly flights during 2019. The mission has been delayed since February due to a DARPA holdup when it delivered the R3D2 satellite to Rocket Lab's launch site.

The spacecraft antenna R3D2 seen in packed and deployed positions. DARPA will launch the satellite test flight on a Rocket Lab Electron booster.

(Image: © DARPA)

The satellite in R3D2 (its name is short for radio frequency risk reduction distribution demonstration) is a test flight aimed at demonstrating a new type of DARPA space aerial. 330-lb. (150 kilograms) payload is a tightly packed "membrane reflective antenna" of tissue thin Kapton designed to unfurl to a maximum diameter of nearly 7.3 feet.

"The R3D2 will monitor the antenna's installation dynamics, survival capability and radio frequency (RF) characteristics of a membrane antenna in the ground path," said DARPA officials in a statement. "The antenna may allow multiple missions that currently require large satellites to include communication with high data rate to disadvantaged users on the ground. "The satellite only took 18 months to design and build, according to DARPA.

" A Successful demonstration also helps prove a smaller, faster launch and lower cost capability, making defense ministry and other users can get the most out of the new commercial market for small cheap launch cars "agency wrote.

Rocket Labs Electron Booster is a small launch vehicle to start payload up to 496 lbs. (225 kg) in low ground The Rachet has a kick-step exceeded to deliver payload in a target track. [19659002] Beck said Huntington Beach, California-based Rocket Lab was excited to launch the DARPA R3D2 mission.

"Rapid Acquisition of Small Satellite Launch Capabilities is becoming increasingly important for US government organizations such as DARPA, Beck says." The ability to quickly qualify new technologies and deploy space-based assets with short-term trust is a service that did not exist for dedicated small satellites ahead till now. "

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik @ space .com or follow him @tariqjmalik Follow us @ Spacedotcom and Facebook ]

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