California-based ABL Space Systems said on May 17 that it has received a contract from the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), geared to speeding the delivery of innovative commercial technology, for the Responsive Launch II program.

The latter includes DIU, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center Rocket Systems Launch Program, and the DoD Space Test program.

ABL said it will use its RS1 rocket and deployable ground systems (GS0) for the DIU Responsive Launch II mission. USSF is funding the development of RS1 and GS0.

“RS1 and GS0’s rapid, flexible operations ensure that launch can respond to disruptions in the existing space architecture,” the company said. “ABL has focused on adaptive manufacturing and production and offers capabilities at low-cost.”

ABL said that the latest contract is the company’s fourth with DoD and brings ABL’s total active contract awards with the Pentagon to more than $50 million.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] said last month that it may buy up to 58 RS1 rockets by ABL, which has aimed to build low-cost launch vehicles and systems for small satellites (Defense Daily, Apr. 5).

ABL is to provide Lockheed Martin “with routine launches of RS1 rockets to accelerate payload technologies into orbit,” Lockheed Martin said. “Lockheed Martin will purchase up to 26 vehicles through 2025 and then up to 32 additional launches through 2029. Launches could use a network of U.S. and international launch sites, including Vandenberg Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and in the United Kingdom.”

RS1 is to deliver a payload of up to 2,976 pounds to low Earth orbit, while ABL Space Systems said that it is designing the containerized GS0 to deploy rapidly to launch RS1 from sites around the world.

USSF’s Space and Missile Systems Center has undertaken a Launch Enterprise effort, a successor to the DoD Space Test Program Rapid Agile Launch Initiative to identify commercial solutions for low-cost, responsive access to space “as a service” (Defense Daily, March 15).