Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a global leader in launch services and space systems, officially opened the Company’s new Engine Development Center in Long Beach, California.
The 144,000+ square foot advanced manufacturing complex will support the high-rate production of Rocket Lab’s 3D printed Rutherford engine, as well development and production for the new Archimedes engine that will power the Company’s new medium-lift rocket, Neutron. The facility was formerly Virgin Orbit’s headquarters and factory for the Launcher One vehicle. Rocket Lab took over the lease for the facility and acquired the factory’s production assets, machinery, and equipment in May 2023 for $16.1 million, generating significant savings for the Neutron’s production program.
“We are proud and excited to continue growing our Long Beach team and footprint by increasing production of our advanced rocket engines right here in space beach,” said Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck. “This Engine Development Center builds on the legacy of the Rutherford engine and signals a new era at Rocket Lab with the development of Archimedes, our new large LOx/methane engine which will power the reusable Neutron rocket. By co-locating our Engine Development Center near our Long Beach headquarters and production complex, we’ve maximized collaboration between our engineering and manufacturing to ensure streamlined efficiency as we continue ramping up Electron launch cadence and get closer to Neutron’s debut launch.”
The Engine Development Center was officially opened by Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson. “I am proud to welcome and celebrate Rocket Lab’s new state-of-the-art Engine Development Center here to Long Beach,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “By choosing Long Beach for this new expansion, it further cements our role as a nationally significant hub of space technology and manufacturing.”
After being manufactured at the Engine Development Center, the completed Archimedes engines will undergo testing at NASA’s historic Stennis Space Center in Mississippi where Rocket Lab is establishing a dedicated test facility at the A-3 Test Stand. From there, the Archimedes engines will be integrated onto the Neutron launch vehicle in preparation for lift-off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 3 at Virginia Spaceport Authority’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Rutherford engines complete testing in New Zealand before integration onto Electron and launch from Rocket Lab’s two Electron launch sites; Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and Launch Complex 2 in Virginia.