The RS1 rocket booster is undergoing acceptance testing.
Rocket manufacturer ABL Space has signed a long-term agreement with Lockheed Martin for multiple launches and agreed to provide up to 58 rockets to the defense giant by the end of the decade.
Lockheed Martin will purchase as many as 26 ABL RS1
Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aerospace, said in a press release: “Having a secure access to space will speed up our demonstration of the spacecraft and related effective The ability to load technology.”
ABL’s RS1 rocket is installed in the middle of the launch market between the small Electron in the rocket market and SpaceX’s large Falcon 9 vehicle. The RS1 is nearly 90 feet tall and is designed to launch a payload of up to 1,350 kilograms (nearly 1.5 tons) into low earth orbit.
Lockheed Martin’s venture capital arm is one of ABL’s early investors. So far, the company has raised approximately $220 million in private capital, most of which came from the last round of T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Management. Financing, valued at 1.3 billion US dollars.
ABL declined to comment on the financial terms of the contract. Based on ABL’s $12 million price tag for the RS1 rocket, assuming the most launches, the deal with Lockheed Martin is estimated to be worth nearly $700 million in eight years.
The second phase of the fully integrated RS1 test fired at Edwards Air Force Base in 2020.
It is worth noting that because ABL’s rockets use a mobile ground system called GS0, which can be packed into several shipping containers, Lockheed Martin may use multiple launch facilities worldwide, including U.S. Space Force facilities located in Vandenberg, California and Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Although the defense giant did not specify the mission planned to use the ABL rocket, Lockheed Martin previously announced in February that it had selected ABL to launch the mission from Scotland in 2022. In addition, Lockheed Martin signed a strategic partnership with the satellite launch company Omnispace last month. The latter’s company plans to launch a satellite constellation to establish a 5G communication network in space.
This large contract represents the success of ABL in the mid-rise market of the launch market, and the company is competing with Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, which arrived in orbit a few months ago.
Other competitors in this area include Relativistic Space and Firefly Aerospace, which are aiming to launch for the first time later this year. At the same time, Rocket Lab is developing a medium-sized lift-off rocket called Neutron, which is expected to be launched in 2024.
ABL continues to work on the first launch of RS1 from Vandenberg.
Although ABL had hoped to be ready for launch as early as March, President Dan Piemont (Dan Piemont) said that the company’s current goal is to “be ready by June.” The rocket manufacturer recently completed the acceptance test of the first RS1 fuel tank, but Piedmont said that ABL expects the required launch site regulatory approval to postpone its first launch attempt to the third quarter of this year.