The complex is designed to serve growing customer demand for composite products and will also support Neutron launch vehicle development and supply.
MIDDLE RIVER, Md.—To support its growing composite product line, the launch and space systems company Rocket Lab USA, Inc., is expanding its space systems business with a dedicated production and development complex, the company said in a release.
The company is establishing a Space Structures Complex in Middle River that is designed to provide advanced composite products for the space industry and to provide further vertical integration of supply for Rocket Lab’s internal needs across launch and space systems. 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.
The complex will support 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, and launch vehicle structures, among others. 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, according to the release.
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 company said the 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, and 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, in a statement. “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, Beck continued. “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.”
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. The facility is home to production, integration, and launch facilities for the Electron and Neutron rockets.