Rocket Lab launches mission for US defence agency

1:16 pm on 29 March 2019

Space company Rocket Lab has launched its fourth orbital mission this afternoon.

Watch the launch video here:

The mission - DARPA R3D2 - intends to test a prototype antenna to improve radio communication in small space craft, the company said.

The sail-like antenna is made of "tissue thin" material packed into a small satellite during launch, before being deployed to its full size of 2.25m once it reaches low Earth orbit.

The launch is being done for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The launch from Māhia Peninsula on the East Cape took place shortly before 12.30pm today.

The launch window was from 17 to 30 March, between 11.30am and 3.30pm daily.

The rocket that will attempt to launch the DARPA R3D2 satellite.

The rocket used in the attempt to launch the DARPA R3D2 satellite. Photo: Supplied / Rocket Lab

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