ABL Space Systems, a small launch vehicle company, has received an extra $200 million, barely seven months after raising $170 million. ABL announced the additional fundraising on October 25 as part of a $170 million Series B deal that was completed in March. The amended Series B was funded by an existing group of investors.
T. Rowe Price Associates led the first Series B round, with participation from prior investors, Fidelity Management & Research LLC, and another “global investment management business” that the company did not name at the time. The company was valued at $1.3 billion in the original Series B investment, but the extended round nearly doubles the figure to $2.4 billion.
The firm still has much of the $170 million it raised in March, according to Dan Piemont, who serves as the president as well as the co-founder of ABL, who described the latest round as “rather opportunistic and motivated by insider interest.” However, the majority of the additional funds will be used to ramp up production of the RS1 vehicle, which is approaching its first launch.
With over 75 launches under contract, he stated, “we have received big orders for RS1 and is going to need to scale quicker than we had expected to meet the demand.” “Our investors have observed the tremendous demand for RS1 and desire to ensure that we have all of the resources necessary to meet it. We’ve adjusted our operating plan to reflect this, and you’ll notice it next year in the shape of new launch sites, facilities, machines, and production workers.”
He added that the increased cash will help the company’s “medium-term strategy” as it prepares for its initial launch. “As long as we don’t compromise our medium-term product strategy or long-term cost structure,” he said, “we’re driven to shift resources quickly in the near term to ensure we achieve in our purpose.” “Having more capital on hand will enable us to do that, as well as continue to operate from a strong position in the event of any problems or delays.”
ABL is planning for its maiden RS1 launch from Kodiak Island, Alaska, later this year, with a launch window that runs through December 15. Acceptance testing has been completed on both stages of the vehicle. He explained, “We’ve got a tiny army up there courageously preparing the pad as well as hangar through severe rain.” “Everything is falling into place, and we’ll take off as soon as possible.”
The extra funds will go toward future vehicle research and development, along with an assessment of the annular aerospike engine for Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospike Rocket Integration and Suborbital Experiment program (ARISE). Other work is centered on ABL’s “orbital launch roadmap,” which Piemont described as “orbital” but declined to elaborate on at this time.