Lockheed Martin to develop UK Spaceport

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US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin (LM) is to participate in the development of the UK’s first commercial spaceport at a seaside site near Melness, in Sutherland, Scotland.

LM, making the announcement at the Farnborough Air Show, said that as part of the scheme it will provide “strategic support and guidance” to the overall site development.

LM is also behind “teammate” Orbital Micro Systems which will create and fly a UK-built pathfinder test in readiness for LM’s Small Launch Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (SL-OMV) built by Moog in Britain as part of the country’s Spaceflight Programme. 

The initial pathfinder test vehicle will validate the site’s ground system and help lay the groundwork for planned constellation launches which will follow.

Initial launch contracts are expected to follow from weather, scientific and commercial launches.

“The countdown to the first orbital rocket launch from UK soil has officially begun,” said Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK Country Executive for Space. “The UK Government has stated its desire to grow the UK’s space sector to ten percent of the global space economy by 2030. We are proud to be selected to help them achieve this goal. This initiative will not only spark advancements in science and innovation, it will create new opportunities for current and future UK-based suppliers to become part of the next space age.”

“This historic ‘pathfinder’ launch for the UK will also demonstrate the tremendous potential small satellites and CubeSats have across a wide range of commercial and government data collection applications,” said Wood. “We believe, as the UK Space Agency does, that this effort will help bring the UK to the forefront of the rapidly-growing, global small satellite market and support the UK’s maturing space supply chain.”

Lockheed Martin’s team includes: Moog, Orbital Micro Systems, the University of Leicester, Surrey Satellite Technology, Satellite Applications Catapult, SCISYS, Lena Space, Reaction Engines and Netherlands Space Office.

Also at the Farnborough show, and directly related to the Spaceport news, UK-based Orbex Space announced a £30 million ($39.6m) package from public and private sources to launch satellites from Scotland. Orbex is building ‘Prime’, a newly-designed orbital launch vehicle to deliver small satellites into orbit.Prime launchers are up to 30 per cent lighter and 20 per cent more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers. The Prime vehicle will launch satellites to altitudes up to 1,250km, inserting them into sun-synchronous or polar orbits,” says the company.

Moog was formed in 19650 by Bill Moog, a cousin of Robert Moog, inventor of the famous Moog Synthesizer. Bill died in 1997 but his company’s motion and fluid controls are used in aircraft, aerospace and defense industries and in theme park rides such as the The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios. Moog also provided a control and motion system for Wimbledon’s Centre Court retracting roof.


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