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SolAero Technologies Corp., an Albuquerque-based company that manufactures solar cells and panels for spacecraft, will be acquired by an out-of-state company for $80 million.
Rocket Lab USA Inc., a space technology company based in Long Beach, California, announced the planned acquisition of SolAero Holdings Inc. on Monday. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.
In a conference call with investors on Monday, Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said SolAero’s expertise in solar technology and connections within the space industry will make it a good fit for the California company’s network of space technology businesses.
“Honestly, we feel privileged to be able to bring the collective capabilities of SolAero’s intellectual property and 425 employees into the Rocket Lab family,” Beck said during the conference call.
Meanwhile, SolAero president and CEO Brad Clevenger told the Journal that he expects the deal to provide the Albuquerque manufacturer with the resources needed to scale up its production capacity and meet the demands of the growing space industry.
“What Rocket Lab has done effectively is scale the businesses they’ve acquired,” Clevenger said.
Originally part of communications technology firm Emcore Corp., SolAero became a standalone company in 2014 after buying Emcore’s solar space division, according to previous Journal reporting. Beck said products made by SolAero have powered more than 1,000 satellites over the past two decades.
Clevenger added that SolAero is one of just two companies manufacturing space-grade solar cells in the United States, and said there will be a greater need for the technology as the industry grows. He cited industry projections showing that the commercial space industry could quadruple in size by 2030.
Following an initial public offering earlier this year, Clevenger said Rocket Lab has the financial resources to grow to meet the market demand. He declined to provide a potential job total associated with the acquisition, but said scaling up capacity would require additional growth.
Clevenger confirmed that he will be staying onboard in his current role, and said SolAero is planning to maintain its presence in Albuquerque. He added that the acquisition speaks to New Mexico’s depth of space industry talent in the private and public sectors.
“There’s an environment here that’s drawing companies like Rocket Lab,” Clevenger said. And I think when it does that, it … grows the space sector’s footprint, which is going to attract more companies.”
During the conference call, Beck referred to SolAero’s 156,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Albuquerque as an “impressive manufacturing footprint in one of the most space tech-talent-rich locations in the world.”
“Albuquerque is home to a great number of space-related businesses, as well as broader technology manufacturing companies, which we believe will serve as a great talent location to further scale and support the broader Rocket Lab development,” Beck said.