Rocket Lab USA, a launch and space systems company, announced the expansion of its space systems business with a dedicated production and development complex designed to deliver a comprehensive suite of advanced composite products for the space industry and to further vertically integrate supply for the Company’s internal needs across launch and space systems.
To support its growing composite product line, Rocket Lab is establishing a Space Structures Complex in Middle River, Maryland, which will support the development and manufacture of carbon composite spacecraft buses, structural panels and assemblies, satellite dispensers, aerostructures and heat shields, composite overwrap pressure vessels, solar panel substrates, launch vehicle structures and more. The site will also play a role in the development and long-term supply of carbon composite structures for Rocket Lab’s new medium-lift launch vehicle, Neutron.
Rocket Lab’s Space Structures Complex will be established in the 113,000-square-foot former Lockheed Martin Vertical Launch Building in Middle River, which has been home to aerospace manufacturing since 1929. The new complex builds on Rocket Lab’s deep heritage in advanced composite manufacturing, including the development of Electron, the world’s first carbon composite orbital launch vehicle, as well as the Company’s spacecraft buses, including the Photon Lunar spacecraft that delivered the CAPSTONE satellite to the Moon’s orbit for NASA in 2022.
Rocket Lab also currently manufactures and launches its in-house designed carbon composite Maxwell satellite dispensers, as well as advanced solar array substrates. Expanding on these products, Rocket Lab’s new composite offering spans design and engineering, tooling and molds, manufacturing, assembly, and testing for space applications.
“Rocket Lab is a world leader in advanced composites through our launch and spacecraft programs, so this is a natural progression as we continue growing our space systems offering,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “We have the experienced team, manufacturing and test equipment, established supply chain, and heritage to deliver reliable composite products to the space industry at scale, and because we’re deeply vertically integrated, we can do it fast and at competitive prices. We’re incredibly excited to bring advanced Rocket Lab composite products to market for our customers. We’re grateful for the support from the State of Maryland, Baltimore County, Maryland Department of Commerce, Governor Wes Moore, Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen, Congressman Ruppersberger, and others who have welcomed us to the state. We look forward to building a bright future in aerospace manufacturing together.”
“We are excited to support Rocket Lab in expanding Maryland’s efforts in the space industry,” said Governor of Maryland Wes Moore. “Renovating this significant Baltimore County site and creating dozens of new jobs will stimulate opportunity for the region, and we are certain that this new Rocket Lab location will become a prominent and successful facility in the state.”
“With new and emerging technologies, the Baltimore region has been nationally recognized as a leading tech hub. Rocket Lab’s Middle River facility will be a welcome part of that developing identity,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “This new facility will bring technological advancements and innovation that will propel us forward into the future of aerospace, allow Maryland to continue to stand out as a global competitor, and stimulate economic growth throughout the state.”
“Our commitment to investing in and growing Maryland’s space industry has boosted our economy and propelled our nation forward. Rocket Lab’s establishment of a new assembly facility in Middle River will create good-paying jobs, contribute to the ongoing revitalization of manufacturing in Baltimore County, and further cement Maryland’s status as a leader in American and international space exploration,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.
“Maryland is home to a unique and growing space industry that is helping the U.S. maintain its global competitiveness and national security and I am thrilled that Rocket Lab has chosen us to grow its business,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “This facility in Middle River is a historic site that has been home to aerospace manufacturing for decades and I am grateful that the tradition – and quality job creation – will carry on with Rocket Lab. I am hopeful this will generate a domino effect of innovation and economic development across the region.”
“We are fully committed to building a stronger economy, generating new jobs, and supporting our local workforce,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “Rocket Lab’s planned renovation to the former Lockheed Martin site in Middle River will honor our region’s history of engineering and innovation while ensuring that our partnership leads to more job opportunities for our residents and communities.”
To assist with project costs, in addition to significant support from Baltimore County, the Maryland Department of Commerce is providing a $1.56 million repayable loan through the Advantage Maryland program. Rocket Lab is also eligible for various other incentives and tax credits, including the Partnership for Workforce Quality program, the More Jobs for Marylanders program, and the state's Job Creation Tax Credit.
Rocket Lab currently undertakes composite work for launch vehicles and spacecraft across its facilities in Long Beach, California, Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as Auckland and Warkworth, New Zealand. Composite development and manufacturing will continue at these locations, while the establishment of the new production complex in Middle River, Maryland, enables Rocket Lab to expand operations in proximity to the Company’s growing assembly, integration and test complex in Virginia at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and NASA Wallops Flight Facility, home to production, integration, and launch facilities for the Electron and Neutron rockets. The new Space Structures Complex expands Rocket Lab’s existing footprint in Maryland, where the Company already operates a manufacturing facility for satellite separation systems and CubeSat dispensers in Silver Spring.
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