Rocket Lab expands in New Mexico

Category: Aerospace
Published: 2024-07-04
Rocket Lab expands in New Mexico

NEW MEXICO – The New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) announced a White House award to a New Mexico company under the CHIPS and Science Act, positioning the state as a hub for advanced manufacturing.

Acting Cabinet Secretary Mark Roper explained that the award consisted of US$23.9 million to Albuquerque-based Rocket Lab, formerly SolAero, which will significantly increase its satellite solar energy production over the next four years and provide up to 140 additional jobs in New Mexico.

The company will invest more than US$70 million of private money in the expansion and US$25 million in financial assistance and incentives from the State of New Mexico.

“New Mexico’s space economy is growing every day, and Rocket Lab’s expansion will bring more than 100 new jobs. This is just the latest example of how CHIPS and the Science Act are driving new technology and good-paying jobs in New Mexico,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Two of the 10 CHIPS grants will go toward expanding facilities in New Mexico, as Intel’s manufacturing plant in Sandoval County has also been approved for CHIPS funding.

Intel’s award will support the upgrade of two semiconductor production facilities into advanced packaging facilities to close a major gap in the domestic semiconductor supply chain. Once in full production, this will be the largest advanced packaging facility in the United States, re-establishing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing.

In April 2024, New Mexico ranked fifth in the nation for year-over-year growth in manufacturing jobs.

“Rocket Lab’s expansion into New Mexico underscores the strength of the state’s dynamic aerospace industry and the importance of state support for its continued growth,” said EDD Office of Strategy, Science and Technology Director Nora Meyers Sackett.

Rocket Lab is a world leader in solar power solutions for satellites and spacecraft, supplying about 500,000 watt/year of on-orbit power. Space-grade solar cells produced in Albuquerque power critical satellites for missile early warning and exploratory science, including the James Webb Space Telescope, the Artemis program’s Orion crew capsule and lunar gateway, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and the Mars Insight Lander.

Under the CHIPS agreement, Rocket Lab will partner with New Space New Mexico (NSNM), a non-profit organization founded to accelerate innovation in New Mexico along with government, academic and private actors. As part of this partnership, Rocket Lab will provide US$2 million over the next three years, allow access to its equipment, services and staff, and sponsor internships to advance the NewSpace Ignitor and Pathways to the Stars programs, two core initiatives of the NSNM program.

NewSpace Ignitor will create co-innovation centers in Albuquerque, the Navajo Nation and rural southern New Mexico to provide opportunities and promote high-tech manufacturing in disadvantaged communities.