Wednesday 22 May 2024
 14.4°C   SE Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Business / Rocket picked by Lockheed Martin for Unst launches as space project takes step forward

ANOTHER “significant milestone” is said to have been reached for the Shetland Space Centre after a launch provider was selected for a government-backed project which aims to see the UK’s first vertical satellite launch take off from Unst.

California developer ABL has been contracted by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to supply rocket and associated launch services.

It is for a project called the UK Pathfinder Launch, which supports the UK Space Agency’s commercial spaceflight programme.

The government is keen to stimulate the emerging space sector in the UK, and as such it gave Lockheed Martin over £23 million for the Pathfinder project in 2018.

The aerospace company, however, signalled its intent last year to shift its support from a proposed space port in Sutherland in the Highlands to Shetland Space Centre – bringing millions in funding from the UK government north.

The first launch from the Pathfinder project is hoped to take place next year.

The launch will use ABL’s new RS1 rocket, which is said to be 88ft in height and able to carry payloads of up to 1,350kg.

On the proposed launch day, the RS1 rocket will lift off from Lamba Ness in Unst – subject to Shetland Space Centre receiving planning permission.

Once in orbit, the rocket will release a small launch orbital manoeuvring vehicle, which can carry and deploy up to six 6U CubeSats – miniaturised satellites for space research that are made up of multiple cubic modules.

This is said to optimise orbital placement and timing for each small satellite’s mission.

Lockheed Martin Space’s regional director Nik Smith 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.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

He told the BBC that Lockheed is looking to establish “an infrastructure” at the Shetland Space Centre in the hoping of potentially becoming a launch customer itself in the future on “preferential terms”.

Co-founder and CEO of ABL Space Systems Harry O’Hanley said the company was “proud” to partner on the project.

“Our team was founded to deliver new launch capabilities, on-demand,” he said.

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to bring our system to Shetland’s launch site and execute this ground-breaking mission with our partners.”

UK Space Agency CEO Ian Annett 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.”

Shetland Space Centre CEO Frank Strang added: “We look forward to working closely with LM and ABL on delivery in Shetland of this vitally important mission for the continued growth of the space sector in the UK.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, meanwhile, said: “The is a welcome step in Shetland’s journey to being a spaceport and I am pleased that Unst has been chosen for this project.

“The isles are in an ideal geographical position for rocket launches, and the spaceport should have a long-term positive impact on Shetland’s economy.”

On top of the Pathfinder project, a number of other companies have committed to using the Shetland Space Centre facilities.

The project recently submitted planning applications to Shetland Islands Council, with the hope being that construction work could start later this year ahead of the first launch in 2022.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.