Space Commerce

Rocket Lab to Supply Solar Power for United States Space Force’s New Missile Warning Satellites

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Rocket Lab
July 27, 2022
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Rocket Lab to Supply Solar Power for United States Space Force’s New Missile Warning Satellites
Lockheed Martin Next Gen OPIR GEO (NGG) satellite
Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, announced that its high-efficiency, radiation-hardened Coverglass Interconnected solar Cell (CIC) assemblies will power the three Lockheed Martin Next Gen OPIR GEO (NGG) satellites for the United States Space Force (USSF). The NGG program will deliver resilient global missile warning capabilities to counter emerging missile and counter-space threats and is part of the latest evolution of the USSF’s missile warning system, following the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program, which was supported by SolAero, a space solar power company acquired by Rocket Lab in January 2022.


“We are excited to continue our long-term partnership with Lockheed Martin by powering the Next Gen OPIR GEO satellites,” said Brad Clevenger, Rocket Lab’s Vice President & General Manager, Space Systems Power Solutions. “These satellites are critical to the mission needs of the United States Space Force and our national security, and we are proud to be supporting their production on an aggressive schedule.”

Rocket Lab’s CICs will be integrated into the solar panels and arrays on the Lockheed Martin-designed and built spacecraft. The spacecraft recently successfully passed critical design review, a major milestone in becoming certified for space. The first of the three satellites is scheduled to launch in 2025.

Founded in 1998 and acquired by Rocket Lab in January 2022, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based SolAero has produced solar cells, solar panels, and composite structural products for more than 1,000 successful space missions with 100% reliability. Over the past two decades, SolAero’s products have played key roles in some of the industry’s most ambitious space missions, including supplying power to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, James Webb Space Telescope, and Mars Insight Lander, as well as several Cygnus Cargo Resupply Missions to the International Space Station.

  • 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 148 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, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.

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SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.