Rocket Lab expansion to bring manufacturing jobs to Albuquerque

Albuquerque, NM (KKOB) — The Biden-Harris Administration announced Tuesday the Department of Commerce will fund Rocket Lab with up to $23.9 million to enhance the supply of space-grade solar cells used in spacecraft and satellites. Rocket Lab is the parent company of SolAero Technologies, which assembles solar cells at its facility in Albuquerque’s Sandia Science and Technology Park.

This project aims to boost the company’s compound semiconductor production by 50% over the next three years and will create over 100 direct manufacturing jobs in Albuquerque.

“Albuquerque continues to be a great home for innovation and advanced manufacturing, and we appreciate President Biden’s investments to help build a thriving, green economy in New Mexico,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This expansion will bring  good-paying jobs to our community and create more diverse career paths for our families.”

Rocket Lab is one of only two companies in the United States specializing in the production of radiation-resistant compound semiconductors, or space-grade solar cells, which are crucial for converting light to electricity in space. These semiconductors play a vital role in U.S. space programs such as the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s Artemis lunar explorations, and the Mars Insight Lander.

“This investment demonstrates that Albuquerque is a prime location for developing cutting-edge technology,” said Economic Development Director Max Gruner. “We have state-of-the-art research facilities, educational institutions, and a skilled workforce to support this growth.”

Rocket Lab will partner with New Space New Mexico (NSNM), a non-profit organization working with government, academic, and private stakeholders to drive innovation. As part of the agreement, Rocket Lab will contribute $2 million to NSNM over the next three years, provide access to their personnel and equipment, and sponsor internship positions.

The City of Albuquerque looks forward to continuing its collaboration with federal and state partners, Rocket Lab, and New Space New Mexico to support this significant advancement. This partnership will foster innovation, create high-tech job opportunities, and contribute to the economic vitality of Albuquerque and its surrounding communities.