U.K. Space Agency Partners with Industry to Advance Spaceflight Program

Lockheed Martin to lead team – including Moog, Orbital Micro Systems, University of Leicester, Surrey Satellite Technology, Satellite Applications Catapult, SCISYS, Lena Space, Reaction Engines, and Netherlands Space Office – to help build U.K.’s first commercial spaceport, launch first orbital rocket.

U.K. Space Agency  officials in Swindon, England, are partnering with Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) in Bethesda, Md., to execute several strategic projects to support the U.K. Spaceflight Program, with a goal of building its first commercial spaceport in Scotland and achieving its first vertical space launch in the early 2020s.

Lockheed Martin won a grant from the U.K. Space Agency and will help implement its vision for the U.K. Spaceflight Program, an initiative to develop a world-leading commercial launch market that grows the U.K. economy through regular, reliable, and responsible access to space.

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.

"The countdown to the first orbital rocket launch from U.K. soil has officially begun," says Lockheed Martin U.K. Country Executive for Space Patrick Wood. "The U.K. Government has stated its desire to grow the U.K.'s space sector to 10 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 U.K.-based suppliers to become part of the next space age."

Lockheed Martin leads a team to execute the following strategic projects to support the U.K. Spaceflight Program:

U.K.’s First Space Port

The team will support the development of the nation's first commercial spaceport at the Sutherland site in Melness, Scotland. The site aims to be the U.K.'s first vertical orbital rocket launch site. Overall site development is being led by Scottish government economic and community development agency Highlands & Islands Enterprise, with Lockheed Martin providing strategic support and guidance.

CubeSat Delivery Vehicle

Once it reaches orbit, the first rocket launched will release a Small Launch Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (SL-OMV), built specifically by Moog in the U.K. for the U.K. Spaceflight Program. This agile platform will carry up to six 6U CubeSats, such as Lockheed Martin's LM 50 platform, which the vehicle can deploy at the most optimal times and positions for their respective missions. The team is currently taking requests from potential customers to fill its CubeSat manifest for this first launch.

Advanced 6U CubeSat Pathfinder

As part of the program, Lockheed Martin teammate Orbital Micro Systems will create and fly a U.K.-built pathfinder test to validate the performance of the SL-OMV and ground system. The pathfinder will help lay the ground work for planned satellite constellations that are designed to deliver low latency weather observation to commercial and government customers.

"This historic 'pathfinder' launch for the U.K. 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 U.K. Space Agency does, that this effort will help bring the U.K. to the forefront of the rapidly-growing, global small satellite market and support the U.K.'s maturing space supply chain."

Lockheed Martin brings space experience to the U.K.'s Spaceflight Program, from ground systems, to launch vehicles, to on-orbit missions. The company's LM 50 CubeSat  platform can be customized to a wide array of missions and payloads. It's one of four modernized satellite platforms  Lockheed Martin offers, including the LM 400 small satellite, LM 1000 remote sensing bus, and the flagship LM 2100 geostationary bus.

The U.K. Space Agency is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy  responsible for all strategic decisions on the U.K. civil space program and provide a clear, single voice for U.K. space ambitions.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year the company received three Edison Awards for ground-breaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology, and directed energy.

Courtney E. Howard  is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..