ABL Space Systems, a small launch vehicle company, has been awarded a deal to deploy a NASA technology demonstration spaceship in 2023.
ABL Space Systems announced on September 16 that the NASA Cryogenic Demonstration Mission spaceship will be launched in 2023 on its RS1 rocket. In 2020, NASA awarded a contract worth $89.7 million to a team led by Lockheed Martin to create the smallsat mission that will evaluate cryogenic fluid management technology in orbit using liquid hydrogen.
Lockheed Martin intended to deploy the spacecraft using Momentus, an in-space transportation corporation, which would manifest this satellite on the Vigoride transfer vehicle propelled by Relativity Space on a Terran 1 rocket in 2023.
On the other hand, Momentus was pulled from the program, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing by Momentus Company in April 2021. Momentus was removed from the project for unknown reasons. However, the filing came as the company was facing federal government inquiries into the Russian ownership at the time, which caused the company’s first Vigoride missions to be postponed.
In a statement, Dan Piemont, who serves as the president of the ABL Space Systems, stated, “This cryo demo is a terrific illustration of the unique science missions afforded by the low-cost, dedicated launch. and we’re glad that RS1 was chosen.” To enable liquid hydrogen to be packed into the spacecraft before deployment, the business will make improvements to the GS0 ground system as well as the payload fairing and the payload support systems of RS1.
ABL Space Systems is backed by Lockheed Martin, which is responsible for Cryogenic Demonstration Mission’s launch services. This launch contract, according to Piemont, is distinct from Lockheed’s April block purchase of a maximum of 58 RS1 launches. Lockheed Martin also chose ABL for its “UK Pathfinder” launch in 2022 from Shetland Space Centre situated in the United Kingdom.
This year, ABL planned to launch the RS1 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base, which is situated in California, for the first time. Piemont said the business now plans to launch its first RS1 rocket from Kodiak Island’s Pacific Spaceport Complex before the end of the year. He said the business would operate from both Vandenberg and Kodiak “as soon as possible” but chose Kodiak for its initial mission.
ABL Space Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, California, develops launch system technology and launch vehicle using CNC and 3D printing, as well as minimal launch operations. The components are made in the United States by the firm.