Launch startup ABL Space raises $170 million in funding

California-based launch startup ABL Space has raised $170 million in Series B at a valuation of $1.3 billion.
The ABL Space RS1 is designed to be capable of carrying up to 1,350 kilograms into a low Earth orbit at $12 million a launch | Image credit: 1,350 kilograms

Able Space announced March 25 that it had closed a Series B investment round of $170 million with a valuation of $1.3 billion.

Founded in 2017, California-based ABL Space Systems is developing its RS1 launch vehicle which is designed to carry up to 1,350 kilograms into low Earth orbit at $12 million a launch.

The launch startup’s $170 million Series B was led by investment firm T. Rowe Price. Fidelity Management & Research and an unnamed third investor rounded out the investment round’s participants.

To date, ABL Space has raised $219 million in funding.

The Series B investment has been earmarked to build up infrastructure and launch sites ahead of the debut of the RS1 launch vehicle later this year. The flight is expected to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying two L2 Aerospace technology demonstration satellites.

If the launch is successful, ABL Space will set a new benchmark for launch vehicle development completing a maiden flight just four years after work began.

Flexible low-cost access to space

ABL Space could become a disruptive force within the market. At just $12 million a launch, the RS1 is just four to five million dollars more than a Rocket Lab Electron while being four times as capable.

According to its website, the RS1 will be capable of deploying a kilogram into low Earth orbit at an altitude of 200 kilometers for just $8,888. This could make the launch vehicle an ideal ride to orbit for cubesat operators.

In addition to offering affordable access to space, the RS1 can be shipped in standard shipping containers and integrated in the field at launch sites around the world. This capability offers a great deal of flexibility to potential customers.

Despite not yet having completed a single mission, Able Space has already secured several launch contracts including two US Air Force contracts worth $44.5 million.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.