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July 14, 2022

Rocket Lab supports DARPA and SDA’s Mandrake-2 mission

The company carries out daily spacecraft monitoring from its Operations Centre in Littleton.

Rocket Lab USA is continuing to support the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Space Development Agency ’s (SDA) Mandrake-2 mission.

The company delivered mission-proven space software, simulation and testing solutions for the Mandrake-2 mission through a team from Advanced Solutions (ASI), a Colorado-based firm acquired by Rocket Lab in 2021.

ASI has been a major part of the mission from the beginning of the programme.

It has also contributed for delivering space vehicles at the launch site in less than nine months.

Earlier in June, the two Mandrake-2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, successfully demonstrated on-orbit optical inter-satellite links.

The test showcased the transfer of more than 280Gb of data in 40 minutes at a range of 114 km.

According to Rocket Lab, the company provided MAX flight software, guidance, navigation and control (GNC) design and analysis, MAX ground data system and mission operations.

The company has been operating the spacecraft from its Operations Centre in Littleton, Colorado, since the launch.

The handling of operations involves Rocket Lab team to monitor spacecraft’s health and status regularly along with trajectory control between the spacecraft for optical cross-link testing.

Furthermore, Rocket Lab provided the spacecraft’s separation system, as well as the star trackers and reactions wheels, providing high-precision attitude control and determination, necessary to attain optical communications link.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said: “This is a significant step toward realisation of global high-speed space network and I could not be prouder of teams at Rocket Lab and ASI for making it possible.”

The company will continue to support the mission as DARPA and SDA work on further defining and testing the capability on-orbit.

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