Excitement builds as ‘the countdown to launch is on’

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has said it is “all systems go” in moving towards its first satellite launch from Shetland later this year.

The company, which is delivering the UK Pathfinder project from SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst, has confirmed today (Monday) that the first rocket test will take place next month.

Its Pathfinder partner, ABL Space Systems, will be launching the RS1 from Alaska, marking a major milestone for the project.

An RS1 rocket will then be shipped to Shetland for the first vertical satellite launch from UK soil later this year.

Meanwhile an “orbital manoeuvring vehicle” (OMV), a free-flying vehicle which will be used to deploy up to six miniature satellites into low Earth orbit, is being developed by Reading-based company Moog.

Next, environmental testing will begin with the replication of launch and space conditions to verify the integrity of the spacecraft.

Lockheed’s UK and Europe regional director Nik Smith said: “We are proud to be working with our partners to reach these key milestones.

“We are making great progress towards the UK’s first vertical, orbital satellite launch.

“This is an exciting time for the team as we see all the different elements coming together, and we’re delighted to be supporting the UK Space Agency to achieve their goal of creating a world-leading commercial launch market and stimulating the UK space supply chain.”

Moog general manager Matt Smith said: “We are excited to be a key part of the UK Pathfinder launch.

“The production of Moog’s SL-OMV is a great example of collaboration between the UK Space Agency and UK engineering expertise.

“The Moog Reading facilities that were built especially for the SL-OMV will allow for future growth in space technology and jobs in the UK.”

UK Space Agency director of commercial spaceflight Matthew Archer said: “The countdown to launch is on, and it’s great to see the work taking place at SaxaVord Spaceport and the progress being made by Lockheed Martin and its partners.”


Add Your Comment
  • Mr ian Tinkler

    • July 18th, 2022 19:35

    Why Shetland? When these launches fail a few hundred kilograms of red hot scrap metal fall to Earth at near supersonic speed!! No wonder those of intelligence in the central belt of Scotland foisted this project on Shetland. Tin hats should be issued to Shetland folk from whoever gave grant monies to forward this project. Why did Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin not try this launch in the USA, just does it not make one feel all warm inside.


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