The satellite itself was built by the nonprofit Space Dynamics Laboratory of Utah State University. A Space Force release notes that “the satellite will also provide a platform to test future space protection capabilities.”
The satellite was launched on a Rocket Lab rocket which took off from the company’s New Zealand facility and carried the payload into low Earth orbit. It was the second ever DoD mission from that launch pad, with the first taking place in 2019.
The launch was secured in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative, which looks to leverage the growing commercial small launch market to put experimental DoD satellites on orbit within 18 months of an award. “Our continuing partnership with Rocket Lab USA demonstrates SMC’s dedication to grow our Nation’s space capabilities both in Government, and the private sector,” said Col. Timothy Sejba, SMC’s program executive officer for Space Development. “This mission proves the functionality of innovative space launch for the Government by working with an agile company that is working diligently to meet the needs of the DoD.”
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