Small Satellite Launch Startup ABL Space System Raises $49M, First Mission Set for 2021

Leslie Ignacio

Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.

Small Satellite Launch Startup ABL Space System Raises $49M, First Mission Set for 2021
ABL Space Systems

ABL Space Systems, a startup building low-cost launch vehicles for small satellites, announced that it raised over $90 million and plans to launch its first orbital mission by the first quarter of next year.

The El Segundo-based company secured $44.5 million in Air Force contracts and another $49 million in private funds led by Ethan Batraski at Venrock with participation from New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital, and Lockheed Martin Ventures.


Their launch vehicle, the RS1 aims to carry up to 1,350 kg into low Earth orbit — around 200 kilometer above the Earth. Early testing has been successful with the vehicle's performance hitting all its targets, the company said.

"We've completed hundreds of engine, stage, and ground system tests across multiple deployments to unimproved sites. All were performed on generator power with fully self-sufficient systems," said Dan Piemont, ABL founder and CFO.

The company's GSO system, which it uses to launch the RS1, is marketed as an easy way to launch satellites on-demand. That system employs shipping containers and a concrete pad to set up a launch. The simple infrastructure cuts down on the need for the large teams employed by traditional satellite companies.

ABL is among a number of U.S. rocket builders like Long Beach-based Rocket Lab and Hawthorne-based SpaceX that are competing in the growing small satellite market.

As the company ramps up toward their launch, it has expanded its footprint leasing additional propulsion test facilities at Mojave Air and Space Port and moved its operations into a 60,000 square foot production facility in El Segundo.

The RS1 satellite launch vehicle team, now made up of 80 engineers, designers and production experts.

The price tag for a launch is $12 million.

ABL founder and Chief Financial Officer Dan Piemont said these "large capacity, fit-for-purpose resilient launch system" offer commercial and government customers "value."

The company shut down during the first month of the pandemic slowing down production and testing, but it resumed operations shortly after.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Liquid Death May Just Be The 'Fastest Growing Non-Alcoholic Beverage Of All Time'

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Liquid Death May Just Be The 'Fastest Growing Non-Alcoholic Beverage Of All Time'
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When Santa Monica-based Liquid Death launched with funding from neighboring venture capital firm Science Inc. in 2018, the Los Angeles startup world – and everyone else – had nothing but jokes. But with the company’s latest $700 million valuation, it appears the joke is on the rest of us.

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