Lockheed’s Mid-Size Bus Set to Fly This Year

Image: Lockheed Martin

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Lockheed Martin is preparing to launch its medium-sized LM 400 bus before the end of the year in preparation for a few classified opportunities coming down the pipeline, Lockheed Space President Robert Lightfoot told a small group of reporters at Space Symposium.

Why LM 400? The company has a number of tech demos waiting for their time to fly, Lightfoot said. LM 400 is up next to allow the company to test and prove the bus in orbit ahead of at least three classified opportunities for which the bus could be a good fit, he said.

“I want to prove the concept of the LM 400 bus so that when I get a potential opportunity, which really the mission is more about the payload, the bus part is kind of behind me,” Lightfoot said Tuesday. “We believe when we look at some of the opportunities coming up, that that sized bus…is kind of a sweet spot.”

The bus, which initially was supposed to launch on a demo in early 2023, has a mass of 1,000 kg and is about the size of a refrigerator. 

To the skies: These sorts of tech demos are only possible because of the plummeting cost of launch, Lightfoot acknowledged when asked about his thoughts on capacity within the launch market. 

“I can go buy a launch. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have done that on my own,” he said. “Now, I can go to Firefly, I can go to ABL, I can go to Rocket Lab…. So there’s lots of opportunities I didn’t have before in my toolbox.” 

Sharing the wealth: Last week, NASA awarded a contract for a lunar terrain vehicle where Lockheed is contributing to a Lunar Outpost-led effort that also includes General Motors, Goodyear, and MDA Space. Lightfoot said he’s comfortable with Lockheed not always being the prime on a program, though he acknowledged it’s a cultural shift for the company.

“Sometimes the government will ask for a large investment, and some of these folks have better capability to go get those investments than we do as a publicly traded company,” he said. 

Related Stories

AST SpaceMobile Secures AT&T Direct-to-Cell Agreement

AST SpaceMobile ($ASTS) clinched a deal with AT&T to provide satellite-to-cell connectivity through 2030, the two companies announced Wednesday.  Public markets cheered the definitive commercial agreement signed with the country’s largest cellular provider, propelling AST’s stock up nearly 70% yesterday and pushing its market cap to $1B+.  Customers will be able to opt in to […]


Xona Raises $19M Series A

Xona Space Systems is working to build an alternative to GPS in LEO, and it’s just secured an additional $19M to make that goal a reality.


Muon Space and Earth Fire Alliance Introduce a New Wildfire Detection Satellite Constellation

Muon Space unveiled plans today for its LEO FireSat Constellation, a wildfire management network the company is building with Earth Fire Alliance. 


SDA Is Strengthening Space Industrial Base, Execs Say

A five-year-old agency within the Pentagon founded with a mandate to move quickly is stimulating investments that make the entire small sat industrial base more resilient and scalable, according to half a dozen top industry execs.