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Rocket Lab continues acquisition spree

US-based space company Rocket Lab has agreed to buy satellite solar cell manufacturer SolAero Holdings for USD80 million in cash, adding another piece to its fast-growing portfolio.

The acquisition is the third that Rocket Lab has announced this year as it seeks to expand beyond its core business of launch vehicles. The company purchased spaceflight software provider Advanced Solutions Inc (ASI) in October, and spacecraft separation systems firm Planetary Systems Corporation in early December.

“SolAero is a highly complementary addition to Rocket Lab's vertically integrated business model and strengthens our ability to streamline space for our customers by delivering complete space mission solutions,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said on 13 December.

SolAero is expected to benefit from the acquisition by gaining access to its new owner's resources and manufacturing expertise, which will help it increase its production rate. Rocket Lab chief financial officer Adam Spice told analysts that his company has identified productivity improvements it intends to make at SolAero.

Founded in 1998, SolAero serves the defence and intelligence markets in addition to the civil space exploration, commercial, and science markets. It is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it has 154,696 sq ft (14,372 m 2 ) of production space. It generates about USD80 million in annual revenue and has a backlog of about USD153 million.

Rocket Lab expects to close the SolAero purchase in the first quarter of 2022. It will gain 425 employees from the transaction, boosting its workforce to more than 1,100 people. SolAero president and CEO Brad Clevenger will continue to lead his team.

Rocket Lab became a public company in August 2021, generating gross proceeds of about USD777 million to help fuel its growth.

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