WASHINGTON — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s spaceflight experiment Recurve launched July 2 from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, supporting the U.S. Space Force.
Recurve is one of several CubeSats designed, built and operated within the Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. A new feature includes cognitive radio frequencies capabilities, Recurve program manager Kate Yoshino said in a news release from the lab.
“AFRL’s CubeSat program is advancing the nation’s space portfolio in developing a hybrid space architecture that encompasses both large and small satellites,” Yoshino said. “Recurve will push CubeSat technology forward by demonstrating adaptive radio frequency [RF] system capability from a low Earth orbit platform.”
The launch by space service provider Virgin Orbit also supported the STP-S28A mission, which included six payloads meant to demonstrate available technology that can put Space Force capabilities on orbit.
The experimental technology of Recurve can evaluate mesh network behavior across multiple nodes. Instead of gathering information from only one node, mesh networks connect to as many other nodes as possible to improve resilience. Through those connections, the nodes work together to move data among users.
These advances will better support the transmission of information to fighters, Lt. Col. David Johnson, who serves as the chief of the Space Vehicle Directorate’s Integrated Experiments and Evaluations division, said in the release.
“Recurve advances us towards a vision of ubiquitous communication networks, to include beyond line of sight, to ensure that our warfighters have the information they need both quickly and reliably,” Johnson said.
The launch is the first of three missions the Space Force has contracted with Virgin Orbit.
Zamone “Z” Perez is an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.