Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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Space Industry Launches Humanitarian Initiative to Support Ukraine

HERNDON, Va. (Space Industry for Ukraine PR) — Leaders of the space community today announced the Space Industry for Ukraine (SIFU), an initiative designed to fund and execute efforts that provide immediate humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine. The initiative will be run by a steering committee, which includes HawkEye 360, National Security Space Association (NSSA), ABL Space Systems, ARKA, BlackSky, Capella Space, ICEYE, Insight Partners, Leidos, LeoLabs, Maxar, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, Rebellion Defense, Relativity Space, Riverside Research, Rocket Lab, Velos and Viasat. The steering committee will fundraise, select and monitor the execution of critical humanitarian projects throughout Ukraine and its neighboring countries. Additional participating donor companies include The Aerospace Corporation, Cognitive Space and Shield Capital.

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All Systems Are Go: Lockheed Martin Welcomes Approval From Shetland Islands Council For SaxaVord Spaceport Construction

Launch from Shetland (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin UK welcomes the approval from Shetland Islands Council to build the SaxaVord spaceport that will allow the company to deliver the UK’s first ever vertical space launch.

Harwell, Oxford, UK, February 28, 2022 (Lockheed Martin PR) – Lockheed Martin UK welcomes the approval from Shetland Islands Council to build the SaxaVord spaceport that will allow the company to deliver the UK’s first ever vertical space launch.

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12 Companies to Provide Venture Class Launch Services for NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 companies to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions, providing new opportunities for science and technology payloads and fostering a growing U.S. commercial launch market.

Award selections are:

  • ABL Space Systems of El Segundo, California
  • Astra Space Inc. of Alameda, California
  • Blue Origin Florida LLC of Merritt Island, Florida
  • L2 Solutions LLC of Houston
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation of Chandler, Arizona
  • Phantom Space Corporation of Tucson, Arizona
  • Relativity Space Inc. of Long Beach, California
  • Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California
  • Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California
  • United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado
  • Virgin Orbit LLC of Long Beach, California
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Kaboom! ABL Space Destroys Second Stage in Test at Mojave

ABL Space Systems lost a second stage during a test in Mojave on Jan. 19, 2022. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A loud boom echoed across California’s Mojave Desert on Wednesday afternoon. I would normally pay little attention to it given how common such occurrences are in Mojave. But, this one was different: instead of nearly daily boom-boom of jet fighters from nearby Edwards Air Force Base going supersonic, this one was a single large BOOM!

And oh, there was a giant cloud of black smoke rising from the rocket test area at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Someone’s engine test had clearly gone awry.

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Project Kuiper Announces Plans and Launch Provider for Prototype Satellites

RS-1 rocket (Credit: ABL Space)

Amazon’s Project Kuiper will launch two satellites by Q4 2022 on ABL Space Systems’ all-new RS1 rocket.

SEATTLE (Amazon PR) — Amazon continues to make progress on Project Kuiper, a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation that will provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. This is a major, long-term initiative, and today we’re excited to share plans to launch and deploy our first satellites.

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ABL Space System Signs Deal with Port of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Port of Long Beach PR) — The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement with ABL Space Systems to build a spacecraft processing facility at the Port of Long Beach and use waterfront area for the delivery and shipping of its cargo.

Founded in 2017, El Segundo-based ABL Space Systems will take over 8.06 acres of land and 1.31 acres of submerged land at the Navy Mole on the Port’s Pier T, which was formerly part of the Long Beach Naval Station.

“We welcome ABL Space Systems to the Port of Long Beach family. It’s exciting to add yet another tenant in the rapidly growing spacecraft technology industry,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “We look forward to what we know will be a mutually beneficial relationship with our newest tenant.”

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ABL Space Systems Raises $200 Million Series B Round

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems has closed a $200 million expansion of its Series B investment round, bringing the company’s valuation to $2.4 billion. The round was led by and comprised of ABL’s existing investor syndicate. ABL has now raised a total of $420 million since founding.

ABL is serving a large manifest of active contracts with fourteen distinct customers across the commercial, defense, intelligence, and science sectors totaling over 75 launches, not including non-binding memoranda or letters of interest.

The funding will be used to scale production of the RS1 launch vehicle and to conduct research and development of future systems.

About ABL Space Systems

Founded in 2017, ABL develops low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry. ABL is headquartered in El Segundo, California, U.S. To learn more, visit www.ablspacesystems.com.

ABL Space Selected to Launch NASA Cryogenic Demonstration Mission

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Sept. 16, 2021 (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems announced that is has been selected as the launch provider for the NASA Cryogenic Demonstration Mission. Developed under a NASA Tipping Point contract awarded in 2020, the Cryogenic Demonstration Mission will launch in 2023 and demonstrate in-space transfer of cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2), the most challenging but highest-performing propellant for lunar and deep space exploration. The mission will help demonstrate numerous novel cryogenic propellant management technologies and help forge a path to sustainable Artemis operations on the moon and beyond.

In support of the mission, ABL will leverage the flexibility of the GS0 deployable launch system, which is purpose-built to rapidly activate new launch sites and support unique customer missions.  The GS0 functionality will be extended to meet NASA’s mission need for LHoperations.  ABL will also advance RS1 with a hydrogen-compatible fairing and payload support systems. 

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Lockheed Martin Expands Quick, Affordable Launch Capability With ABL Block Buy of 58 Flights

RS1 integrated stage test (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

DENVER and EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 5, 2021 (Lockheed Martin/ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems will provide Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] with routine launches of RS1 rockets to accelerate payload technologies into orbit. Lockheed Martin will purchase up to 26 vehicles through 2025 and then up to 32 additional launches through 2029. Launches could use a network of U.S. and international launch sites, including Vandenberg Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and in the United Kingdom.

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ABL Space Raises $170 Million Growth Equity Round Led by T. Rowe Price Funds

RS1 integrated stage test (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., March 25, 2021 (ABL Space Systems PR)– ABL Space Systems has closed a Series B investment round of $170 million at a valuation of $1.3 billion. The round was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. Participation in the round included existing ABL investors and new investments by Fidelity Management & Research LLC and an unnamed third global investment management firm.

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ABL Space Systems Performs Integrated Stage Test of RS1 Launch Vehicle

RS1 integrated stage test (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Oct. 22, 2020 (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems has completed integrated stage testing of the RS1 small satellite launch vehicle.  Testing was performed on the RS1 second stage with the in-house designed E2 liquid rocket engine at the Area 1-56 test site on Edwards Air Force Base. 

Critical aspects the campaign included handling of the propellant tanks, operating pressurant management systems, and refining the stage arming and engine startup sequences, all of which were accomplished successfully.  This test campaign builds on the successes of eighteen months of extensive component, engine and stage testing.

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