Rocket Lab says it will build a new complex that will give it a total 55,000 square feet (5100sq m) of production space, offices and mission control facilities in the US state of Colorado.
It will become the Kiwi-American company's fourth major facility in the US behind its 97,000 sq ft (9000sq m) corporate headquarters at Long Beach, California - which also houses its Rutherford engine and avionics manufacturing lines - the 156,000 sq ft (14,300sq m) New Mexico plant it in inherited with its purchase of SolAero (see below) and Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, from where its larger Neutron rocket will exclusively launch.
The new, 40,000 sq ft Colorado complex will be built near ASI's existing 15,000 sq ft facility, which caters to clients including commercial space craft developers, the US Air Force, Nasa and the US Department of Defense.
The complex is expected to be completed by late 2022 and will include two mission operations centers. The expansion will also support team growth, with Rocket Lab's Colorado headcount expected to double to more than 120 people by early 2023 with roles spanning flight software development and spacecraft simulation.
The Colorado expansion comes on the back of Rocket Lab's US$40m ($59m) purchase of Advanced Solutions, Inc (ASI), a maker of systems help control space mission operations.
ASI was one of four firms scooped up by Rocket Lab over the past 18 months. The acquisition spree has also included Canada's Sinclair Interplanetary for an undisclosed sum, Planetary Systems Corporation, a Maryland-based spacecraft separation system, for US$42m and SolAero, a New Mexico maker of solar components for space, for US$80m
SolAero came with 425 staff - boosting Rocket Lab's total headcount to 1100. When the deal closed in mid-January, Rocket Lab had a majority of its staff in North America for the first time (some 525 are based in NZ).
Not all of the expansion is State-side, however.
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Rocket Lab is also expanding its 80,000sq ft (7500 sqm) plant in Auckland to include a new production line that will produce up to 2000 reaction wheels per year. Reaction wheels are critical attitude and stability control systems on satellites. The inhouse manufacturing capability drive is part of Rocket Lab's push to offer a full space transportation service. The company also has plans to take over neighbouring buildings.
Launch Complex 1 at Mahia has also been upgraded. Founder and CEO Peter Beck says Mahia will remain the location for most launches of his company's Electron rocket, in part because New Zealand's relatively empty skies and shipping lanes make it easier to achieve a high-frequency launch schedule.
Rocket Lab's Nasdaq-listed shares, which listed at US$10.00 last October and have flown as high as US$21.34 during a volatile ride, have been caught in the tech stock battering this month. They were recently trading at US$9.43 for a US$4.2b market cap.