Credit: Rocket Lab

Long Beach, California. May 24, 2022 – Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, and Varda Space Industries (“Varda”), the world’s first In-space manufacturing and hypersonic Earth re-entry logistics company, today announced that Varda will procure a fourth Photon spacecraft. The deal follows on a previous bulk-order by Varda in August 2021 for three Photon spacecraft from Rocket Lab.

The Rocket Lab-designed and built Photon spacecraft will provide power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control for Varda’s 120 kg in-space manufacturing satellite which will produce high-value products in zero-gravity and return them to Earth in a re-entry capsule. In addition to providing on-orbit support during the in-space manufacturing phase of Varda’s mission, the Photons will place Varda’s hypersonic re-entry capsule, carrying the finished products, on a return trajectory to markets on Earth using Photon’s 3D-printed Curie engine.

Rocket Lab will design and manufacture all four Photons at its Long Beach-based spacecraft production line. Leveraging Rocket Lab’s vertically integrated capabilities as an end-to-end space company, each Photon will incorporate Rocket Lab star trackers, reaction wheels, solar panels, flight software, and radios.

“Our growing space systems capabilities offer a compelling balance of performance, heritage, schedule reliability, and cost, ultimately making innovative missions like Varda’s in-space factories possible with speed and efficiency,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Photon is bringing new capabilities to market quickly, meeting the growing customer demand for advanced, configurable satellite technology. We’re very pleased to continue strengthening the partnership with Varda and look forward to delivering hardware early next year.”

"Rocket Lab’s Photon bus is a great compliment to Varda's in-space manufacturing and hypersonic re-entry logistics service," said Varda CEO Will Bruey. "Rocket Lab shares Varda's vision to build an in-space economy to improve life on Earth and beyond. We look forward to working with Peter and the team at Rocket Lab as we grow our businesses and work to expand the bounds of humankind."

The Varda contract joins Rocket Lab’s growing space systems backlog, which includes a US$143 million contract with MDA Ltd (TSX: MDA) to lead the design and manufacture 17 spacecraft buses for Globalstar’s new Low Earth Orbit satellites. Globalstar, Inc. (NYSE American: GSAT) is a leading provider of Mobile Satellite Services including customizable satellite IoT solutions for individuals and businesses globally. A high-energy variant of Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft was also selected by NASA to deploy the CAPSTONE satellite, owned and operated by Advanced Space, to lunar orbit in 2022 in support of NASA’s Artemis program. Rocket Lab currently operates two existing Photon spacecraft on orbit.

Source: Rocket Lab

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Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.