Rocket Lab USA, a launch and space systems company, has been awarded two contracts worth a total of $14 million to provide satellite separation systems for Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) satellites. Rocket Lab will supply more than 80 total Lightband Separation Systems (also called Lightbands) to prime contractor Lockheed Martin and another undisclosed customer, both of whom are manufacturing satellites for the SDA’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer.
Lightbands are separation systems that are used to attach satellites to rockets and release them into space once the rocket reaches its intended orbit. Rocket Lab’s separation systems were designed by Planetary Systems Corp, which was acquired by the Company in 2021, and have a 100% mission success rate across more than 140 missions. Compared to typical clamp band separation systems, Rocket Lab’s Lightbands are lighter weight, have a lower profile, shock, and tip-off rate, and have attained the highest Technology Readiness Level by the US Government.
Part of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA), SDA’s Transport Layer will provide assured, resilient, low-latency military data and connectivity worldwide to the full range of warfighter platforms. T1TL consists of a mesh network of 126 optically-interconnected space vehicles and will form the initial warfighting capability tranche of the NDSA.
“The Tranche 1 Transport Layer will provide crucial capabilities for the National Defense Space Architecture and we’re proud to be delivering the separation systems that will deploy these spacecraft precisely and accurately,” said Brad Clevenger, Vice President of Space Systems. “Being selected by not one but two companies building spacecraft for the SDA’s Transport Layer is a real vote of confidence in our Lightbands which have delivered 100% mission success for more than 100 separations on orbit.”
Previously, Rocket Lab’s Lightbands have been used on NASA International Space Station and Space Shuttle missions, on all major U.S. and international rockets.
The Lightbands are a part of Rocket Lab’s vertically-integrated Space Systems offering that also includes the in-house manufactured and operated spacecraft, satellite dispensers, and satellite components such as reaction wheels and star trackers, solar panels, and flight software.
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