Lockheed Launches Spaceplane Prototype in NM; Spaceport America Predicts Launches in Q1 2009

Lockheed Martin conducted another test flight of a winged space vehicle from Spaceport America on Tuesday, LiveScience‘s Leonard David reports. A press release is reproduced below.

UPDATE: David reports that the prototype went out of control and was damaged to the point that it cannot be reused.

Spaceport America Press Release

LAS CRUCES, NM – New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced a successful launch of a test flight vehicle for Lockheed Martin by UP Aerospace from Spaceport America on Tuesday, August 12. The brief test flight was a non-public, unpublished event at the request of Lockheed Martin, who is testing proprietary advanced launch technologies.

“Today’s launch successfully lifted off at 7 a.m. local time at the beginning of our three-hour launch window. We are very pleased to be a small business partner with Lockheed Martin on their research and development technology programs by supplying low-cost, fast turnaround launch operation,“ said UP Aerospace President Jerry Larson. Today’s launch represents additional progress for Lockheed Martin, which did preliminary launch testing at the Spaceport in December 2007.

The latest launch represents yet another successful experience at Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. “We are extremely pleased to host another launch by UP Aerospace, which continues to set the precedent for safe, practical commercial spaceflight at Spaceport America,” said NMSA Executive Director Steve Landeene. “The aerospace community increasingly understands the benefits offered by Spaceport America.”

Spaceport America is the nation’s first purpose-built commercial space facility. Spaceport America holds great promise for New Mexico’s economic future, and has been working closely with leading aerospace firms such as Lockheed Martin, UP Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Microgravity Enterprises and Payload Specialties. With planning moving along rapidly, the NMSA currently projects that licensed vertical launches can begin in the first quarter of 2009 and that the terminal and hangar facility for horizontal launches should be completed by 2010.