Rocket Lab joins NASA’s $278.5 million project to accelerate development of near-Earth communications through partnerships with commercial satellite communications providers
Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it has been selected by Inmarsat Government as partner to develop and manufacture an L-band radio in support of NASA’s Communications Services Project (CSP). CSP seeks to accelerate the development of commercial near-Earth communications services by partnering with satellite communications (SATCOM) providers. Rocket Lab will help enable Inmarsat’s InCommand, a real-time, near-Earth telemetry, command, and control (TT&C) service for satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) for the CSP with the Company’s new Frontier-L radio connecting to Inmarsat’s ELERA global L-band network in geosynchronous orbit (GEO).
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Inmarsat spacecraft depicted in Earth orbit. Credit: Inmarsat
As NASA prepares to decommission the agency’s owned and operated Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) system, which has provided communication for the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and numerous NASA’s Earth-observation satellites, the CSP aims to tap into commercial satellite communications services to ensure future NASA missions have similar reliable, secure, and high-performance space relay capabilities.
Rocket Lab’s Frontier-L radio is a transmitter that will support Inmarsat Government’s demonstrations of a variety of TT&C applications, enabled by Inmarsat’s ELERA worldwide L-band network, including Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), ubiquitous command and control, real-time tasking, and contingency operations for satellites in LEO orbits.
“Rocket Lab and Inmarsat Government both share a culture of innovation, pioneering technology and delivering reliable mission success, so we’re honored to be working together to support NASA in this vital project to enable major missions of the future,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “We look forward to building on the strong heritage of our Frontier radios by supporting Inmarsat’s world-renowned satellite network and leading capabilities providing satcom as a service.”
Frontier-L join’s Rocket Lab’s existing line of radios including the software-defined telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) S-band Frontier-S and X-band Frontier-X radios which can support near Earth and deep space missions. Based on the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Applied Physics Lab (APL) Frontier Radio, Frontier-L packs Deep Space Network (DSN) and other typical waveforms (SN, KSAT, SSC) into a compact package with up-screened commercial components for high reliability applications. The family of Frontier by Rocket Lab radios includes extended functionality not typically available in a low-cost radio including a coherent transponder to enable radiometric navigation methods, precision timekeeping functions, forward error correction (FEC) encoding and decoding, and a hardware based critical command decoder (CCD).
Steve Gizinski, President, Inmarsat Government, said, “Inmarsat Government has joined with major space-based industry suppliers to demonstrate the capabilities of Inmarsat’s ELERA global, reliable satellite network, including for NASA’s Communications Services Project and Rocket Lab is a key partner for us. Rocket Lab’s Frontier-L radio will leverage InCommand on the ELERA network as an important new capability for ubiquitous command and control to enhance the operation of low Earth orbit spacecraft. This will enable new communications services for industry and government alike.”
+ ABOUT Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 151 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
ABOUT INMARSAT GOVERNMENT
The U.S. government has relied on and trusted Inmarsat satellite services since 1979. Inmarsat Government continues to deliver the world’s most advanced global, mobile satellite communication services to U.S. defense, intelligence, homeland security, public safety and civilian agencies, with highly reliable, secure and affordable connectivity. Implementing solutions with government users in mind, Inmarsat Government provides resilient, flexible capabilities to complement government satellite resources, anytime, anywhere. Leveraging an industry-leading scalable multiband network infrastructure, Inmarsat Government offers a suite of managed network services and end-to-end communication solutions to support users on land, at sea and in the air, even in the world's most remote regions. Headquartered in Reston, VA, Inmarsat Government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Inmarsat Group Holdings Limited.
Inmarsat delivers world leading, innovative, advanced and exceptionally reliable global, mobile communications across the world – in the air, at sea and on land - that are enabling a new generation of commercial, government and mission-critical services. Inmarsat is powering the digitalisation of the maritime industry, making operations more efficient and safer than ever before. It is driving a new era of inflight passenger services for aviation, while ensuring that aircraft can fly with maximum efficiency and safety. Furthermore, Inmarsat is enabling the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and enabling the next wave of world-changing technologies that will underpin the connected society and help build a sustainable future. And now Inmarsat is developing the first-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional communications network of the future, ORCHESTRA.
In November 2021, Inmarsat and Viasat announced the planned combination of the two companies, to create a new leader in global communications.