Rocket Lab will use a former Lockheed Martin aerospace facility to manufacture parts that support their new Neutron rocket. Image: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab to Open Spacecraft Manufacturing Complex in Middle River, MD

Rocket Lab USA, the company launching commercial rockets into space from Wallops Island, Virginia, is expanding its presence in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Today the launch and space systems company announced it will open a space structures complex at the former home of aerospace and defense corporation Lockheed Martin in Middle River, Maryland. Space development at the site goes all the way back to 1929 and the Glenn L. Martin Company, an aviation pioneer that moved into the guided missile and space industries in the 1950s and 60s.

Local and federal leaders cut the ribbon at the 113,000 space structures complex that was most recently the Lockheed Martin Vertical Launch Building. There, Rocket Lab will develop and build carbon composite spacecraft parts like buses, structural panels, satellite dispensers, heat shields, launch vehicles and more, to support growing demand for composite materials in the space industry.

Rocket Lab will also use the facility to supply launch vehicles for their newest Neutron rocket. The company expects to employ about 65 people by the end of 2025.

“We are excited to support Rocket Lab in expanding Maryland’s efforts in the space industry,” says Governor of Maryland Wes Moore. “Renovating this significant Baltimore County site and creating dozens of new jobs will stimulate opportunity for the region, and we are certain that this new Rocket Lab location will become a prominent and successful facility in the state.”

Rocket Lab currently builds launch vehicles and spacecraft at facilities in California, New Mexico, New Zealand. Adding the production complex in Middle River allows Rocket Lab to build more vehicles and spacecraft closer to the Wallops Island, Virginia, spaceport and test facility. The Wallops Island site is home to production and launch facilities for Rocket Labs’ Electron and Neutron rockets.

The Electron rocket was the the world’s first carbon composite orbital launch vehicle. The first one launched into orbit from Wallops Island in January 2023.

This isn’t Rocket Lab’s first presence in Maryland, however. They operate a manufacturing facility for satellite separation systems and dispensers in Silver Spring.

-Meg Walburn Viviano