The Washington based vehicle developer ABL Space System announced on October 22 that it had already started some static-fire tests of the upper compartment of its vehicle. The company has set a track of its first launch to be in 2021. The company stated that it carried out its first vehicle test at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. The activities that took place during the E2 engine test included fueling the stage, startup refining sequences, and firing the single-engine.
The founder and president of the ABL, Dan Piemont, said that they could attest that it is the first real proof of its capability for those who knew of the orbital launch. He claimed that his team’s superiority could be seen from the success of achieving this step in just three years, having less than 75 personnel in the whole process. During the test, the E2 engine fired for a short duration. The ABL president said that he and his team are targeting to make the engine run for 1000 seconds in the whole testing period.
The RS1 from the ABL Company has its main stages. The first stage is driven by nine E2 engines fueled by liquid oxygen and some refined kerosene powered propellants. The founder and president, Mr. Piemont, stated that the company plans to carry out some traditional battery tests of lower stages and consider a static fire in days to come. The company is planning to ship its first flight version of the RS1 first stage from its headquarters in El Segundo, California, to a branch in Vandenberg Air Force Base by the end of the year for a launch attempt planned to be in the first quarter of 2021.
The RS1 is expected to weigh up to 1 tone into the sun-synchronous orbit costing around $12 per launch. The company did not mention any current competitors, but they consider Virgin Orbit to be a likely candidate. Virgin Orbit is known to be working on an air-launch system known as LuncherOne, which is believed to have experienced some engine malfunction during its first orbital launch attempt in May. It is believed that the company is planning a second orbital launch attempt this year. The company launcher Richard Branson said that the company had set plans to help it raise an additional $200million in the coming months to help in more developments by the Virgin Orbit.