Military Embedded Systems

Northrop Grumman team demos rapid spacecraft development


May 08, 2019

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Northrop Grumman photo

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. Under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) program, a Northrop Grumman-led team demonstrated rapid spacecraft development.

To successfully complete the demonstration, Northrop Grumman led a 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.

The Northrop Grumman-led team, included Blue Canyon Technologies, provider of the spacecraft bus, and Trident Systems, who designed and built R3D2’s software-defined radio. R3D2 was launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand by Rocket Lab.

DARPA’s approach of reducing requirements, reviews, and deliverables enabled to accelerate the timeline of R3D2, Northrop Grumman officials say.

“We look forward to continuing to lead the cultural change necessary in the industry, by partnering with the U.S. government, commercial suppliers and startups to deliver prototypes and demonstrations for critical national security missions," says Scott Stapp, vice president, resiliency and rapid prototyping, Northrop Grumman. "Taking thoughtful risks and eliminating bureaucracy allowed us to streamline our processes to achieve rapid timelines.”


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