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Lockheed Martin to Launch payload demonstrator

Lockheed Martin ESA Payload Demonstrator. Credit Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin ESA Payload Demonstrator. Credit Lockheed Martin

 London, 29 November 2023.- Lockheed Martin announced on the 27th of November that it will soon launch a Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) payload demonstrator. The ESA sensor intends to extend the company’s investment in scalable wideband ESA technology development to showcase on-orbit capability. 

The payload demonstrator will launch aboard Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket, under the mission Fly the Lightning. It will launch from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California in a primary launch window in December, with the date yet to be announced. 

The ESA payload has been built using commercial parts for quick mass-producibility. For the upcoming demonstration it is integrated on a Terran Orbital Nebula small satellite bus. The payload, nicknamed Tantrum, was developed in Lockheed Martin Space’s Ignite organisation. This new team has three missions: exploratory research and development, accelerating the pace of technology development, and new product innovations. 

“Within the Ignite construct, the payload was developed from early architecture to flight-ready product in 24 months on an accelerated schedule piloting many streamlined agile processes,” said Sonia Phares, vice president of Ignite at Lockheed Martin Space. “For this demonstration, Lockheed Martin has invested its own resources and is embracing more calculated risks from initial development through on-orbit operations to bring new technologies to the forefront of space faster and to keep our customers ahead of ready.”

Lockheed Martin is additionally producing several technology demonstrator spacecraft, including Pony Express 2 which intends to demonstrate mesh networking among satellites. The Tactical Satellite is also under development which will demonstrate on-orbit processing.  

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