Lockheed Martin announced on Monday that it has entered into a block buy agreement with ABL Space Systems. The agreement will require ABL to provide Lockheed with routine rocket launches of RS1 launch vehicles that will accelerate payload technologies' delivery rate into orbit. Lockheed will buy up to 26 rockets through 2025 and then up to 32 through 2029.
"This long-term agreement with ABL solidifies our strategic partnership for the future. Having this assured access to space will accelerate our ability to demonstrate the spacecraft and associated payload technologies we are developing to the meet the future mission needs for our customers,” commented Rick Ambrose, EVP at Lockheed Martin Space and 2021 Wash100 Award recipient.
Lockheed and ABL will both benefit from the agreement. Lockheed will secure lower-cost launch vehicles by accelerating risk reduction with demonstration missions which will be the foundation for future missions. ABL will benefit from a long-term partnership with a steady launch manifest that will facilitate future growth.
Harry O'Hanley, CEO and co-founder of ABL, said, "We designed RS1 with flexibility in mind. We can serve a wide array of missions from many different launch sites using RS1's large payload capacity and deployable round systems. We're excited to support Lockheed Martin's launches, providing a unique end-to-end capability to the most important U.S. space missions."
ABL’s RS1 launch vehicle and GS0's deployable launch systems are currently under development with funding from the U.S. Space Force. The RS1 will be capable of launching up to 2,976 lbs to low Earth orbit. The GS0 will be a containerized system that a small team can quickly set up to launch the RS1 from new sites worldwide.
Lockheed is currently developing payload technologies to support many different missions. Including payloads designed for Earth observation, global communications, climate research and more. The agreement’s stipulated launches could be executed from multiple sites, including Vandenberg Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and the United Kingdom.
"We believe that routine, dedicated access to space for small satellites is critical to achieving U.S. and allied civil and defense priorities. This major agreement will help ABL and Lockheed Martin accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation space systems over the decade to come,” concluded Dan Piemont, president and co-founder of ABL.