ABL Space Systems, a prospective American launch provider, is set to launch a NASA science mission in 2023. The company announced the contract which will make use of its RS-1 launch vehicle on 16 September. ABL is anticipating the maiden launch of its rocket before the end of this year from the Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska. Previous plans were for a first launch attempt from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, but these have reportedly been changed.
The satellite is part of the NASA Cryogenic Fluid Management Technology Demonstration programme. The Glenn Research Center hopes to demonstrate several cryogenic fluid management technologies in-orbit. These experiments utilising liquid hydrogen will hopefully pave the way for future space systems.
Lockheed Martin was selected to develop the mission in October 2020. At this time it had intended to utilise a Terran 1 rocket from Relativity Space arranged through Momentus Space. However, these plans changed in April when Lockheed Martin removed Momentus from the project. This was likely down to the regulatory issues Momentus was experiencing at the time associated with its Russian co-founder.