Rocket Lab has shared a video tour of the state-of-the-art facilities powering its growing spaceflight ambitions.
The company has clearly come a long way since it started out in 2006, investing huge sums of money in high-tech operations in New Zealand and California that support not only its current commercial satellite-launch business but also preparations for more challenging missions in the coming years.
The video kicks off with Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck showing us around the company’s rocket-building plant in Auckland. We also get a good look at its main launch site in Mahia Peninsula 220 miles away, with footage of its Long Beach base also part of the package. Rosie the robot makes a cameo appearance, too.
Rocket Lab’s video also offers a glimpse of its 3D printing setup, which has been creating rocket engines and rocket engine components for the last eight years, with over 200 of its 3D-printed rockets having so far launched to space.
“In this industry there’s a lot of talk about factories of the future,” Beck says of the Auckland facility that produces a rocket every 20 days, adding, “You’re standing in the factory of the future, and it’s not a CAD image. It’s up and running.”
The New Zealand-born founder and boss of Rocket Lab said its global facilities “represent a huge investment by the company over many many years,” and have brought the company to a stage where making changes to rocket design or increasing production is easier than ever.
California-headquartered Rocket Lab, which currently employs around 450 people, achieved its first orbital launch in 2017 and since then has delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit across 21 missions involving its workhorse Electron launch vehicle. Its most recent mission took place at the end of last month.
But like any company involved in an industry where a small anomaly can have big consequences, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Rocket Lab, with the occasional mission mishap resulting in the loss of customers’ payloads.
The setbacks have failed to dent Rocket Lab’s ambitions, however, with the company earlier this year announcing Neutron, its most powerful rocket yet that will be capable of carrying heavier payloads than Electron, with crewed flights also on the cards.
Further expansion of the companies facilities includes the construction of a new factory in the U.S. to build the Neutron rockets, and new launch infrastructure at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia for the first Neutron flights tentatively planned for 2024.