Rocket Lab to Launch From U.S. for First Time on Tuesday

Rocket Lab is scheduled to launch its Electron rocket from U.S. soil for the first time on Tuesday. The window for the launch three signal collection satellites for HawkEye 360 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia runs from 6-8 pm EST (23:00-01:00 UTC). The company will webcast the launch on YouTube.

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Engine Failures Doomed ABL, Virgin Orbit Launches

RS1 rocket in flight before all nine first stage engines failed. (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

A couple of updates on the launch failures this week.

ABL Space reports that all nine E2 engines on the RS1 rocket’s first stage failed simultaneously shortly after liftoff from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Tuesday. The rocket fell back on its launch pad and exploded, resulting in significant damage but no injuries, the company said.

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ABL’s RS1 Rocket Fails on Maiden Flight

RS1 booster on the launch pad. (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

ABL Space’s RS1 rocket failed shortly after liftoff from its launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Tuesday, the company said.

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NASA Plans Artemis Launch for Wednesday, ABL Space Eyes Maiden Launch of RS1 Booster

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen during sunrise atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as preparations for launch continue, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I flight test is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA will make another attempt to launch the Artemis I mission to the moon on Wednesday as small-satellite launch provider ABL Space Systems prepares for the maiden flight of its RS1 booster from Alaska.

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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.