ABL Space Systems is in the midst of seeking new funding, aiming big with a target goal of $100 million. The recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that they have successfully closed over $40 million so far. The relevant Form D was submitted on December 29.
This is the first news of funding for ABL since October of 2021, when they secured an impressive $200 million and reached a valuation of $2.4 billion. Since its establishment in 2017, ABL has accumulated $420 million in investments from major players such as T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management, and Lockheed Martin Ventures.
As of press time, ABL has not responded to inquiries from TechCrunch regarding details about the investors involved in the current round, their plans for the financing, or any other pertinent information.
The company’s main projects include the development of RS1, an imposing 88-foot-tall, two-stage launch vehicle, and GS0, a comprehensive ground system architecture. Together, these components create a fully functioning mobile launch system. In an enthusiastic blog post, CEO Harry O’Hanley paints a bright future for this integrated architecture: “Picture this: a fleet of container trucks arrives at a parking lot. Just a few days later, that same lot transforms into an orbital launch site. That’s the amazing potential of RS1 and GS0.”
Recently, in a separate post published on December 19, O’Hanley and ABL President Dan Piedmont have called for greater focus on domestic launch resiliency and security, particularly when it comes to the critical launch site layer. In their words, “Currently, there are only four operational U.S. launch sites, with three others operated by our allies. Each of these sites is equipped with the most advanced technology and skillful experts in the launch industry. However, we cannot deny that the overall launch site layer remains a weak point.”
Not surprisingly, O’Hanley and Piedmont assert that GS0 is the solution to this vulnerability, offering a launch mount and site system in a “proliferated” configuration.
Evidently, ABL’s message has already struck a chord, as they have not only received substantial private market investments, but have also secured notable contracts with the U.S. Space Force. Last year, the company was awarded a contract worth $60 million to develop “responsive launch” capabilities, including the ability to launch at short notice.
Since the failed attempt to launch RS1 a year ago, ABL has been relatively quiet. The rocket experienced a destructive crash just 10 seconds into its first test flight. In October, after 10 months had passed, CEO Harry O’Hanley revealed that significant improvements had been made to both the rocket and the ground system in preparation for a second test. However, there have been no updates on the timeline for this next launch attempt.
O’Hanley reflected on the unexpected events of the past year, stating, “It was not in our plans to have RS1 grounded for most of 2023. Our efforts during this time were focused on major enhancements, far from the launch pad lights.”