Rocket Lab and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have entered into an exclusive license agreement to manufacture commercialized near and deep-space capable small spacecraft telemetry and control radio technology.
Developed by Rocket Lab, the Frontier-S is based on the APL Frontier Radio that flew aboard the Van Allen Probes, Parker Solar Probe, and the Emirates Mars Mission. Today, the APL-designed and Rocket Lab-manufactured Frontier-S SDRs (Software-Defined Radio) fly aboard Rocket Lab's Pathstone mission. They will also be aboard its upcoming CAPSTONE mission to the moon for NASA and to Venus for a Rocket Lab mission.
Extended functionality atypical of other low-cost radios includes a coherent transponder enabling radiometric navigation, timekeeping functions, and a hardware-based critical command decoder. The radio is low-cost and compatible with spacecraft as small as 6U CubeSats, creating a lightweight, power-efficient, and highly radiation-tolerant telemetry and command solution suitable for deep space and low Earth orbit applications.
"Frontier-S radios are another strategic addition to Rocket Lab's growing space systems portfolio of in-house built products and capabilities, further strengthening our position as an end-to-end space company. Enabling long-distance communication and telemetry in deep space is difficult for any mission, but especially for small satellites where mass and power constraints are a challenge. Frontier-S radios provide a compelling communications solution for interplanetary missions, as well as those closer to home in low Earth orbit.
APL has a long history of making critical contributions to NASA and international missions to meet the challenges of space, applying science, engineering, and technology to develop leading spacecraft, instruments, and subsystems. We are excited to combine APL's strong history of innovation with Rocket Lab's proven ability for high-volume manufacturing to deliver an industry-leading communications solution at competitive costs and on reduced timelines" said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO and founder, in today's press release.