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Rocket Lab Wins $24m U.S. Space Force Contract to Develop Neutron Upper Stage

Press Release From: RocketLab
Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, has been awarded a $24.35 million contract with the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) for development of the Neutron launch vehicle’s upper stage. The agreement signifies Rocket Lab’s commitment to becoming a launch provider for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, which launches the United States' most critical missions.

The Upper Stage Development for Neutron prototype project with the SSC’s Launch Enterprise, under the National Security Space Launch program using the Space Development Corps’ Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), will fund development of Neutron’s upper stage to support national security and defense launch capabilities for scientific and experimental satellites to the largest and most critical national security payloads. The award is part of a $75 million research and development program approved by U.S. Congress to advance the state-of-the-art in the upper stage technology of domestic launch systems.

The Upper Stage Development contract with the SSC’s Launch Enterprise recognizes the launch vehicle’s design to maximize mass-to-orbit capability, orbital insertion accuracy, and responsive dedicated launch for the U.S. government – key requirements for launch providers of the highest priority national defense and security missions awarded through the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program. Existing NSSL launch providers include SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, and the awarding of this contract recognizes Rocket Lab as a potential NSSL Phase 3 Launch provider from 2025.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, says: “We’re dedicated to building a next-generation rocket that will transform space access for constellations through to the most critical missions in support of national security, and it’s an honor to be partnering with the U.S. Space Force to develop Neutron. This award is a vote of confidence in Neutron and our ability to deliver low-cost, responsive, dedicated launch for the U.S. Government. We’ve built a trusted launch system with Electron, and we’ll do it again with Neutron to continue providing unfettered access to space with our new heavier-lift vehicle.”

About Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, spacecraft components, satellites and other spacecraft and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle and the Photon satellite platform and is developing the Neutron 8-ton payload class launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 105 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand, one of which is currently operational, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational by the end of 2021. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.

About Space Development Corps’ Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC)

Established in 2017, SpEC facilitates engagement between the Department of Defense space community, industry, and academia. SpEC leverages these partnerships to promote integrated research and prototyping efficiencies, and to accelerate next-generation space-related technology and prototype development. Today, the Consortium now has just under 600 members, 70 percent of which are non-traditional. To learn more, visit: https://space-enterprise.org/ SSC, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is a U.S. Space Force field command responsible for developing and acquiring lethal and resilient space capabilities for warfighters by rapidly identifying, prototyping, fielding and sustaining innovative, space-based solutions to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy. SSC’s functions include developmental testing, production, launch, on-orbit checkout, and maintenance of USSF space systems, as well as and oversight of USSF science and technology activities.

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