Rocket Lab is on a mission to vertically integrate space solutions. On Tuesday, the space launch and systems company announced an agreement to acquire SolAero Holdings, a provider of space solar energy products and precision aerospace structures, for $80 million in cash.
The purchase of SolAero, a 24-year-old company based in New Mexico, means Rocket Lab now has another key internal supplier for its satellite manufacturing. At the same time, having access to Rocket Lab resources will give SolAero the manufacturing capacity it needs to increase production and high-volume scale, which means it can also better supply other customers.
The deal was originally announced, pending certain closing conditions, in December 2021, just months after Rocket Lab announced its acquisition of Colorado-based Advanced Solutions, Inc. (ASI) for $40 million. The acquisition of ASI was intended to help Rocket Lab build its Space Systems division and achieve its goal of becoming an “end-to-end” space company, covering the manufacture of spacecraft, satellite subsystems, flight, ground operations and launch, according to ASI. the company.
The SolAero merger also follows the December 2021 acquisitions of Planetary Systems Corporation, a spacecraft separation systems company, and April 2020 of Sinclair Interplanetary, a satellite component manufacturer.
“SolAero is a highly complementary addition to Rocket Lab’s vertically integrated business model, enabling us to provide complete space mission solutions to our customers,” Rocket Lab CEO and Founder Peter Beck said in a statement. “With over 1,000 successful missions, the SolAero team has enabled pioneering missions, providing space solar power solutions for the James Webb Space Telescope and Mars missions including InSight and Ingenuity.”
The Mars Insight Lander was the largest solar array ever deployed to the surface of Mars, and Ingenuity was the helicopter that successfully flew to Mars in April of last year.
SolAero products provided power to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and several Cygnus cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station. The company also supplied power to the OneWeb broadband constellation and was selected to supply solar power modules for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans, which should enable future missions to Mars.
SolAero’s 425-person team will join Rocket Lab, bringing the company’s total headcount to over 1,100 employees at its facilities in California, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, Toronto, New Zealand and now Albuquerque. The team will continue to be led by President and CEO Brad Clevenger.