Updated 8:30 p.m. Eastern with comments from Terran Orbital and Space Florida.
SAN FRANCISCO – Terran Orbital announced an agreement with Space Florida Sept. 27 to establish a manufacturing facility on Florida’s Merritt Island large enough to produce more than 1,000 satellites per year.
At the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly known as the NASA Space Shuttle Landing Facility, Terran Orbital, the parent company of Tyvak and PredaSAR, plans to claim 10 hangars for what Space Florida calls “the world’s largest satellite manufacturing facility.”
“Not only will we be able to expand our production capabilities to meet the growing demand for our products, but we will also bring valuable space vehicle manufacturing opportunities and capabilities to the State of Florida, investing over $300 million in new construction and equipment,” Marc Bell, Terran Orbital co-founder and CEO said in a statement. “By the end of 2025, we’re going to create approximately 2,100 new jobs with an average wage of $84,000.”
The announcement comes one week after Terran Orbital revealed plans to lease four floors of an Irvine, California, office building for satellite design, engineering and development work.
The highly automated 61,300-square-meter Florida facility, which is expected to take three years to complete, will feature additive-manufacturing technologies to speed up satellite manufacturing plus artificial intelligence to help Terran Orbital keep tabs on its supply chain. Space also will be set aside in the new Terran Orbital facility to produce and store “technologically advanced, printed circuit boards,” according to the Sept. 27 news release.
Bell told SpaceNews that the factory is currently in its design phase, with construction expected to start in the middle of 2022. The $300 million cost will be covered by a “conduit financing” arranged through Space Florida.
Dale Ketcham, vice president of government and external relations for Space Florida, said Terran Orbital is using private financing that Space Florida arranged. “We can put together an attractive financing package from the private sector so the debt is owed to the capital markets not the taxpayers,” he told SpaceNews, adding that Space Florida arranged similar financing for other projects.
Space Florida received $38 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to build out infrastructure, such as utilities and roads, at the Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) to support Terran Orbital and other clients. “With Exploration Park all but filled up the LLF will be where we can next provide land for commercial space activities,” he said, referring to the business park just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center that is home to Blue Origin and OneWeb Satellites.
“Satellite manufacturing is and will continue to be an important part of the economy in the Space Coast, and with this announcement we are upping the ante,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “In Florida, we are going to continue to take the lead on space by investing in infrastructure, training highly skilled workers and maintaining an economic climate that allows companies like Terran Orbital to thrive.”
While state and company officials claim that the factory will be the largest satellite manufacturing facility in the world, Lockheed Martin’s Gateway Center outside Denver, where the company consolidated its satellite manufacturing work, is designed to have 325,000 square meters of production facilities, offices and other buildings when fully built out.
Jeff Foust contributed to this report from Washington.