Small satellite launch company ABL Space Systems is gearing up for its first-ever launch.
ABL said this week ABL completed a key fueling test, called a dress rehearsal, with its RS1 rocket at the Pacific Spaceport site on Alaska’s Kodiak Island.
“All pre-launch operations have been completed. We are working with the FAA to complete our launch window,” ABL tweeted. (will open in a new tab) on Thursday (September 15) with reference to the US Federal Aviation Administration.
Subject: History of missiles.
Such updates are relatively rare. ABL does not tweet or engage in other public self-promotion very often; we weren’t even told what “ABL” meant. However, it is clear that the small satellite launch provider has big plans. (ABL did not respond to an email request in time for this story to be published.)
ABL boasts a man-portable ground operations system and launch vehicle that are packaged in several easy-to-carry shipping containers. The company’s RS1 rocket is capable of launching up to 2975 pounds (1350 kg) into low Earth orbit (LEO) and, thanks to the ultra-mobility of the entire system, can be deployed from almost anywhere on the planet from a fairly large flat concrete platform. , according to the ABL website.
It looks like ABL does almost everything in-house. Founded in 2017, the company develops and manufactures most of its own infrastructure and launch materials. Whatever is outsourced by ABL, the company maintains a firm grip, writing on its website that “not only our suppliers, but also our sub-suppliers and investors are thoroughly vetted and audited.”
ABL Space Systems is headquartered in El Segundo, California, where much of its design and manufacturing is done along with assembly and systems integration. The company operates two facilities in the Mojave Desert, one at Edwards Air Force Base and the other at the Mojave Air and Space Port. ABL’s facilities in the Mojave Desert focus on research and development, as well as engine and equipment testing. ABL also maintains a number of offices in Seattle “to respond to the needs of customers in different regions,” according to the company’s website.
The ABL RS1 rocket is 88 feet (26.8 meters) tall and is powered by nine of the company’s E2 engines in the first stage and a single E2 engine in the second. ABL describes the E2 rocket engine as “deliberately boring”. The E2 is partly built using 3D printed components that ABL manufactures in-house and is fueled by a select combination of liquid oxygen and either RP-1 or Jet-A, which are widely available forms of kerosene fuel. ABL charges $12 million to launch RS1.
According to EverydayAstronaut.com, the upcoming launch, the rocket’s debut flight, will lift two cubesats called VariSat 1A and VariSat 1A 1B. (will open in a new tab). The duo, owned by Texas-based OmniTeq, will launch into polar orbit as part of a demonstration mission “to experiment and gain experience with a satellite designed to support HF.” [high frequency] maritime data communications,” the filing with the US Federal Communications Commission said. VariSat 1C was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 25 this year.
The successful first launch of the ABL RS1 rocket will bolster confidence in the new launch provider, which has already secured a contract with Lockheed Martin. (will open in a new tab) up to 58 missions until 2029. This detailed manifesto is in line with the company’s goal of achieving “a fast and hassle-free future of orbital launches.”
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