United Kingdom News
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.
HARWELL, Oxford, Feb. 8, 2021 – The UK’s first ever vertical satellite launch from British soil moved one step closer today with confirmation that a launch vehicle from ABL Space Systems will power the first satellite into space.
Lockheed Martin has contracted ABL Space Systems, of El Segundo, California, a developer of low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry, to supply a rocket and associated launch services for the company’s first UK vertical satellite launch.
The project known as UK Pathfinder Launch is planned to be the first ever vertical small satellite launch from UK soil, from Scotland in 2022. It will also be the first UK commercial launch for U.S.-based ABL Space Systems’ new RS1 rocket.
Nik Smith, Regional Director, Lockheed Martin Space, said: “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’s space sector, aligned to the UK Government’s prosperity and industrial strategy.”
ABL Space Systems’ flexible, integrated GSO launch system, and RS1 rocket, allows for a rapid and cost-effective deployment with outstanding launch performance.
“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 to bring our system to Shetland’s launch site and execute this ground-breaking mission with our partners.”
Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch supports the UK Space Agency’s commercial spaceflight programme – ‘Launch UK’. In October 2020, the UK Space Agency confirmed Lockheed Martin’s plans to move its programme to the Shetland Space Centre and last month, planning proposals were submitted for the space launch facility in Unst.
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said: “We want the UK to be the first in Europe to launch small satellites into orbit, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world, accelerating the development of new technologies and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs across the whole of the UK. Lockheed Martin’s selection of ABL Space Systems for their UK Pathfinder launch brings us one step closer to realising this ambition – putting the UK firmly on the map as Europe’s leading small satellite launch destination.
“In this challenging time, it’s more important than ever that we support technologies that will help create jobs and economic growth, enabling people and businesses across the country to benefit from the commercial opportunities offered by the UK’s growing space sector and the many firms throughout its supply chain.”
The addition of ABL Space Systems as a partner completes Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch programme team. On launch day, ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket will lift off from Shetland Space Centre, in Unst, Shetland, the UK's most northerly island.
Once in orbit, the rocket will release a small launch orbital manoeuvring vehicle, an agile platform built by MOOG, in Reading, UK, which can carry and deploy up to six 6U CubeSats (miniaturised satellites for space research that are made up of multiple cubic modules) optimising orbital placement and timing for each small satellite’s mission.
Headquartered in London, Lockheed Martin UK has operated in country for nearly 80 years. From postal sorting technology to helping build the UK’s first commercial spaceport, its innovations and partnerships help solve some of the UK’s most complex challenges, contributing to national defence, security and prosperity.
About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Please follow @LMUKNews on Twitter for the latest announcements and news from across our UK business.
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Notes to Editors
View a new animated video illustrating the ABL Space Systems’ RS1 launch vehicle launching from Shetland Space Centre.