Lockheed Martin [LMT] may buy up to 58 RS1 rockets by El Segundo, Calif.-based ABL Space Systems

, which has aimed to build low-cost launch vehicles and systems for small satellites.

ABL Space Systems is to provide Lockheed Martin “with routine launches of RS1 rockets to accelerate payload technologies into orbit,” Lockheed Martin said on Apr. 5. “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.”

The companies said that U.S. Space Force (USSF) is funding development of ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket and GS0 deployable launch system. 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).

Rick Ambrose, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a statement that Lockheed Martin’s “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,” he said.

Harry O’Hanley, CEO and co-founder of ABL, said that ABL Space Systems “can serve a wide array of missions from many different launch sites using RS1’s large payload capacity and deployable ground systems.”

Dan Piemont, president and co-founder of ABL, said in the statement that his company believes that “routine, dedicated access to space for small satellites is critical to achieving U.S. and allied civil and defense priorities” and that the agreement with Lockheed Martin “will help ABL and Lockheed Martin accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation space systems over the decade to come.”