Home Business Biden’s $23.9M CHIPS Investment in Rocket Lab’s Space-Grade Solar Cell Production, New...

Biden’s $23.9M CHIPS Investment in Rocket Lab’s Space-Grade Solar Cell Production, New Mexico to Benefit

Biden Administration Announces Proposed $23.9M CHIPS Investment in Space-Grade Solar Cell Production

On June 11, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled a significant plan, proposing substantial direct funding of up to $23.9 million to Rocket Lab, a leading space technology company, through the CHIPS and Science Act. This investment is earmarked for Rocket Lab’s production facilities for space-grade solar cells, crucial components that power spacecraft and satellites. The proposed investment is set to bolster the modernization and growth of Rocket Lab’s operations, underlining the importance of their contribution to the sector.

Under the terms of the release, the CHIPS investment is intended to enhance Rocket Lab’s capacity for fabricating compound semiconductors by fifty percent within three years. This increase in domestic manufacturing would help meet the growing demand for solar cells suitable for use in space from the commercial space industry, national security organizations, and NASA.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the move could help the military, NASA, and the commercial space industry access the specialty semiconductors they need to keep the country safe and continue to lead in scientific discoveries and space commerce.

Solar Space Panels
Solar Space Panels. Image: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab is one of only two firms in the U.S. that specializes in the creation of space-grade solar cells, which are compound semiconductors that are radiation-resistant and highly efficient. The company’s headquarters are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These devices are capable of converting light into energy, which enables them to supply power to essential space projects. These programs include missile awareness systems, exploratory science missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s Artemis lunar expeditions, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, and the Mars Insight Lander.

As the U.S. and other nations continue to expand their technological presence in space, particularly with Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that offer more resilience, there is a growing demand for solar cells suitable for use in space. In addition, solar power is used extensively in space-based military systems, which are essential for both economic and national security requirements.

Rocket Lab intends to contribute $2 million over the next three years to support New Space New Mexico (NSNM), a non-profit organization focused on accelerating innovation in the state of New Mexico. This contribution will be made in addition to the financing provided by the federal government. The cooperation aims to build co-innovation hubs in Albuquerque, the Navajo Nation, and rural southern New Mexico. These hubs will provide opportunities and promote high-tech manufacturing in places that are currently underrepresented.

The proposed CHIPS investment is part of the Biden Administration’s broader efforts to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor industry and ensure a resilient supply chain for these critical components. The final award terms and amounts are subject to due diligence and negotiations between the Department of Commerce and Rocket Lab.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exit mobile version