Northrop Grumman Successfully Demonstrates Critical Space Capability for DARPA Mission in Record Time

R3D2 satellite being prepared for launch. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Rapid prototyping capabilities led DARPA’s R3D2 program to success

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 7, 2019 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully demonstrated rapid spacecraft development for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), with the Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2), which launched on March 28, 2019.

Northrop Grumman led a unique team of commercial suppliers to deliver a 150 kg small satellite from concept to orbit in 20 months. Traditional satellites of comparable complexity typically take many years to get to this stage.

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Virgin Orbit, Vector and Mystery Stealth Company Qualify for DARPA Launch Challenge

Credit: DARPA

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — The DARPA Launch Challenge aims to fundamentally shift military space capabilities to enable on-demand, flexible, and responsive launch of small payloads. Three competitors successfully completed the qualification phase and will attempt to launch to low-Earth orbit from two different U.S. locations within a matter of weeks. Teams will receive notice of the first launch site a few weeks prior to launch and exact details on the payload and intended orbit just days before launch. DARPA is targeting both launches for early 2020.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches DARPA’s R3D2 Satellite

Electron lifts off with DARPA’s R3D2 satellite. (Credits: Kieran Fanning, Sam Tom)

The launch marks Rocket Lab’s 25th satellite deployed to orbit, continuing the company’s mission success heritage

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., March 28, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – A Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 23:27, March 28th UTC (12:27, 29 March NZDT). The mission launched a prototype reflect array antenna to orbit for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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Rocket Lab Scrubs Electron Launch

Rocket Lab Electron Launch Set for Sunday

DARPA Prototype Reflectarray Antenna Offers High Performance in Small Package

MMA Design successfully completes deployment testing of its innovative high-compaction ratio reflectarray antenna in its Louisville, Colorado facilities. (Credit: DARPA)

Editor’s Note: The 13-day window for the launch of DARPA’s R3D2 satellite aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron booster from New Zealand opens no earlier than March 16.

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) is set for launch in mid-March 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.

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Griffin Taps DARPA Official to Head New Space Development Agency

Fred Kennedy

SpaceNews reports that Dr. Fred Kennedy, who is director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), has been tapped to run the Defense Department’s new Space Development Agency.

Kennedy was tapped for the post by Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin. The new agency will attempt to cut through Pentagon bureaucracy and red tape to develop and procure next generation military space systems more rapidly and less expensively.

According to his biography, Kennedy joined DARPA as TTO deputy director in January 2017. He had previously served as the senior policy advisor for national security space and aviation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
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SSL Pulls Out of DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program satellite. (Credit: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, CA, Jan. 30, 2019 /CNW/ – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has exercised its right to terminate participation in the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), citing a need to focus its resources on ensuring optimal returns when weighed against other capital priorities, such as WorldView Legion. SSL remains unwavering in its commitment to its customers on all existing contracts.

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Rocket Lab to Conduct Dedicated Launch for DARPA

Ellectron launches NASA’s Venture Class CubeSats. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Huntington Beach, California. January 22, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab announced today that its first mission of 2019 will be a dedicated launch of a 150kg satellite for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The mission highlights US Government demand for the type of responsive, ultra-flexible and rapidly acquired launch service that characterizes the Rocket Lab launch experience on Electron.

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Airbus & Partner OneWeb Win DARPA Contract to Support Blackjack Program

HERNDON, Va., USA, 14 January 2019 – Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.

DARPA describes the Blackjack program as an architecture demonstration intending to show the military utility of global low-earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight and cost. DARPA wants to buy commercial satellite buses and pair them with military sensors and payloads. The bus drives each satellite by generating power, controlling attitude, providing propulsion, transmitting spacecraft telemetry, and providing general payload accommodation including mounting locations for the military sensors.

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Griffin Drafts DARPA to Create DOD Space Development Agency

Mike Griffin

SpaceNews reports that Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has drafted DARPA to help put together the DOD’s Space Development Agency, which is designed to help cut through red tape to develop new systems rapidly.

In a Dec. 6 memo titled, “Space Development Agency Study Team Direction and Tasking,” Griffin directed Fred Kennedy, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, to lead a study team and come up with recommendations for the “implementation of the Space Development Agency.”

A DoD source shared the contents of the memo with SpaceNews. The memo was sent to key leaders across the department, including the secretaries of the military services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Strategic Command, as well as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Kennedy was not given a lot of time to complete the study. “I expect this effort will require 45 to 60 days,” Griffin wrote. The DARPA team has to provide an “interim progress report” within 30 days to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and the space governance committee.

DARPA Selects Telesat’s LEO System to Support DARPA’s Blackjack Program

OTTAWA, Canada, November 27, 2018 (Telesat PR) – DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded a contract to Telesat under which Telesat will undertake investigations that could lead to the Department of Defense (DoD) making greater use of commercial low earth orbit satellite constellations, such as Telesat’s LEO system, for DoD’s future space-based communications.

The investigations will include evaluating the advantages of DoD using the same spacecraft buses as those Telesat will use in its LEO constellation and having these future DoD spacecraft link to Telesat’s LEO constellation via laser-based communications. The result of these investigations could lead to DoD using Telesat’s LEO system for its global broadband connectivity needs.

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