ABL Systems is in Charge of Lockheed Martin’s Rocket Launch from Shetland Space Centre

16th Feb 2021
Shetland Space Centre

Lockheed Martin is working with ABL Space Systems to fulfill the 2018 agreement with the British government for a launch from the new Shetland Space Centre

Lockheed Martin announced the news on 7th Feb. The company confirmed that ABL Space Systems is in charge of the upcoming mission. Additionally, the date is set for 2022 when the rocket will debut its mission dubbed the UK Pathfinder. 

Inside is a tug carrying 6U CubeSats that it will deploy into orbit. The mission is crucial since it fulfills the British government’s pledge, made in 2018, to support a domestic rocket launch. It led to Lockheed Martin being awarded a $31 million contract by the UK government. 

The contract covered three areas: the 2022 mission, an orbital maneuvering vehicle from Moog in the UK, and the Sutherland spaceport. At the time, Lockheed Martin decided not to reveal the vehicle it intended to use on the mission. 

Later it was revealed the company lacked a suitable craft to meet its commitments. However, it was decided to work with other Lockheed Martin partners towards this goal. Last October, news came in that the UK Space Agency had accepted the ABL Space Systems proposal to perform the rocket launch from Shetland instead of Sutherland. 

Systems All Set for 2022

According to a statement released by the Regional Director of Lockheed Martin, Nik Smith, the company emphasized its commitment to the mission. Furthermore, it affirmed that partnering with ABL Space Systems meant working with the best to ensure the UK space centre grows. 

He also stated that the UK’s goal was to be a leader in smallsat delivery in Europe. Attaining this goal would bring in more business from across the world. 

The decision to let ABL Space Systems be in charge of the launch was because of its capabilities. ABL has a more effortless, affordable, and fast system that guarantees deployment once in orbit, which many future clients require. It’s one of few companies that can perform the mission with minimal infrastructure at the Shetland Space Centre. 

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