Lockheed Martin has contracted ABL Space Systems, a provider of low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry, to provide a rocket and launch services for Lockheed Martin’s first UK vertical satellite launch, UK Pathfinder, the company reported on Tuesday.
“We are absolutely committed to the success of this program and the world class capability that ABL Space Systems brings will allow us to build on our long-standing partnership with the UK and strengthen the growth of the UK space sector, aligned to the UK Government’s prosperity and industrial strategy,” said Nik Smith, regional director of Lockheed Martin Space.
Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch is planned to be the first vertical small satellite launch from UK soil, which is planned to launch from Scotland in 2022. It will also be the first UK commercial launch for ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket.
ABL Space Systems’ flexible, integrated GSO launch system, along with the company’s RS1 rocket, will enable rapid and cost-effective deployment with advanced launch performance. Lockheed Martin’s Launch will support the UK Space Agency’s Launch UK.
“We want the UK to be the first in Europe to launch small satellites into orbit… Lockheed Martin’s selection of ABL Space Systems for their UK Pathfinder launch brings us one step closer to realizing this ambition,” Ian Annett, deputy CEO of UK Space Agency said.
The addition of ABL Space Systems as a partner completes Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch program team. On launch day, ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket will lift off from Shetland Space Centre, in Unst, Shetland.
Once in orbit, the rocket will release a small launch orbital maneuvering vehicle, which can carry and deploy up to six 6U CubeSats, optimizing orbital placement and timing for each small satellite’s missions.
“ABL Space Systems is proud to partner with Lockheed Martin on the UK Pathfinder Launch Program," said Harry O'Hanley, co-Founder and CEO of ABL Space Systems. "Our team was founded to deliver new launch capabilities, on-demand. We're thrilled at the opportunity bring our system to Shetland’s launch site and execute this ground-breaking mission with our partners.”