Terran Orbital to Build World’s Largest Spacecraft Factory in Florida


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Nano and microsatellite developer Earth Orbital announced a $ 300 million investment to build what it claims to be the world’s largest commercial spacecraft facility in Florida.

The 660,000 square foot facility will be built on Merritt Island and will take advantage of 3D printing technologies to enable the production of thousands of different types of space vehicles per year.

The factory will be based on an artificial intelligence (AI) controlled supply chain and will produce a wide range of complex electronic and mechanical devices for satellites.

“I am delighted to announce that Terran Orbital will invest $ 300 million in the Space Coast to build the world’s largest satellite manufacturing plant,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. “The manufacture of satellites is and will continue to be an important part of the Space Coast economy, and with this announcement we are stepping up the stakes.”

A rendering of what Terran Orbital’s new facility in Florida might look like. Image via Terran Orbital.

Florida’s Space Coast

The House of Nasa, Florida consolidated its position as a world leader in aerospace research and investment to earn the nickname “Space Coast”. NASA launches its rockets from Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Equator, which means that a rocket launch from the region uses 0.3% less energy thanks to the greater kinetic energy generated there when the Earth rotates on its axis.

As such, the region is home to several 3D printing companies active in the space sector. Specialist in manufacturing outside the world Made in space, which was acquired last year by the aerospace conglomerate Red cable, bases its operations there, having previously worked with NASA to introduce 3D printing technology into new aerospace applications.

Starting rocket propulsion Aerospace Firehawk is also based in Florida and raised $ 2 million in seed funding last November to develop its advanced rocket propulsion systems driven by 3D printed solid fuel rods. 3D printing rocket maker Relativity space, meanwhile, plans to launch its 3D printed Terran R launcher from its Cape Canaveral site in 2024, the same site as the planned launch of its Terran 1 which was postponed to early next year.

Besides, Firefly Aerospace, a supplier of launchers and spacecraft, plans to install an Automated Fiber Placement System (AFP) from Ingersoll machine tools at its new Florida Space Coast plant and launch site at Cape Canaveral, which is expected to be completed by early 2022. The company estimates that the facility will be able to produce 24 of its Alpha rockets each year, which are manufactured from all carbon fiber structures using AFP technology.

Currently based in Irvine, California, Terran Orbital will become the last company using 3D printing technology for space applications to reach Florida’s Space Coast with the construction of its new facility.

“In Florida, we will continue to lead the space by investing in infrastructure, training highly skilled workers and maintaining an economic climate that allows companies like Terran Orbital to thrive,” added DeSantis. “I congratulate them for making the right decision to come to Florida.”

A satellite in lower Earth orbit.
The image shown shows a satellite in lower Earth orbit. Image via MIS.

Terran Orbital’s $ 300 million investment

Terran Orbital is planning the development of its new facility in partnership with the Florida Aerospace and Spaceport Development Authority, Florida Space. Once built, the facility would be the largest manufacturing plant for Industry 4.0 spacecraft in the world, spanning 660,000 square feet.

Built at the Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) on Merritt Island, the facility will consist of ten automated hangars capable of producing thousands of space vehicles per year.

Featuring an AI-controlled supply chain, the facility will be equipped with 3D printing technologies to enable rapid delivery of space vehicles to market. The plant’s additive manufacturing capabilities will be harnessed to produce high-quality, technologically advanced 3D printed circuit board assemblies that feature extensive electronic storage vaults.

Meanwhile, the augmented and assisted workforce product lines will produce a wide range of complex electronic and mechanical devices to be integrated into an array of different satellites and spacecraft.

“We are delighted to partner with Space Florida to build a factory that we see as a national asset: a commercially funded contribution to our country’s industrial space base,” said Marc Bell, co-founder and CEO of Terran Orbital. “Not only will we be able to expand our production capabilities to meet growing demand for our products, but we will also bring valuable space vehicle manufacturing opportunities and capabilities to the State of Florida, investing more than $ 300 million in new construction and equipment.

“By the end of 2025, we will create approximately 2,100 new jobs with an average salary of $ 84,000.

The state-of-the-art facility will help Terran Orbital deliver end-to-end satellite offerings to customers in the military, civil and commercial aerospace industries. The company combines design, production, launch planning, mission operations and in-orbit support to customers, and is also developing what it says is the most advanced Earth observation constellation capable of delivering vital capacities in terms of image responsiveness.

Created to strengthen Florida’s leadership position in aerospace research and exploration, Space Florida will support Terran Orbital in the construction of the new facility.

“Space Florida congratulates Terran Orbital on its selection of Florida and our launch and landing facility at the Kennedy Space Center for a new satellite manufacturing complex,” said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida. “This announcement is another milestone in Florida’s leadership in the space business, delivering cutting-edge development, including on-demand launch and satellite-on-demand capabilities at the spaceport.

“We look forward to the success of Terran Orbital in the years to come and the continued business and growth in Florida. ”

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Featured Image Shows a rendering of what Terran Orbital’s new facility in Florida might look like. Image via Terran Orbital.

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