Rocket Lab converts former Virgin Orbit headquarters into engine development center

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The new center will be used for the production of Rutherford engines and the development of larger Archimedes engines for the Neutron rocket

On October 4, the opening ceremony of the Rocket Lab engine development center took place. The 13,400 square meter building will produce the Rutherford engines used on the Electron rocket, as well as the larger Archimedes engines for the Neutron rocket.

The building was previously the headquarters of Virgin Orbit, where the company built its LauncherOne rocket. Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy in April, and Rocket Lab leased the building through a bankruptcy auction in May and purchased the equipment and machinery inside for $16,100,000.

Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab converts former Virgin Orbit headquarters into engine development center

Rocket Lab previously estimated the cost of the building and its contents at approximately $100,000,000. However, according to the company’s chief financial officer, Adam Spies, the main value of the purchase lies in reducing the risk associated with expanding engine production.

Rocket Lab began moving into a new building immediately after the bankruptcy process was closed. Employees began installing engine production equipment and taking inventory of tools left behind by Virgin Orbit, including industrial equipment and furniture.

The company already produces parts for the Archimedes engine and last weekend began moving the Rutherford engine production line to the new building. The full-engine production cycle will be ramped up over the next few months.

At the same time, Rocket Lab continues to investigate the failed launch of the Electron rocket on September 19. The investigation is still in the early stages, with no specific time frame for completing the investigation or plans for Electron to resume flights.

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