Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is deepening its investment in satellite manufacturer Terran Orbital with a $100 million investment and a cooperative agreement to develop and sell small satellites until 2035.
Terran also announced that they are now building their massive $300 million space vehicle production facility. in Irvine, California, not Florida as originally planned. Terran Orbital CEO Marc Bell told the press that the company decided to move the facility to California, where Terran Orbital already has a significant footprint, because it could move facilities faster than in Florida. It’s a big loss for Space Florida, the state’s aerospace-focused economic development agency, which had planned to fund the facility.
Boca Raton, Florida Terran Orbital is a contract manufacturer that designs and builds satellites for the US government and commercial customers. In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Bell estimated that about 95 percent of the company’s work is related to the Department of Defense and NASA.
In 2017, Lockheed Martin made its first investment in Terran; the following year, it led a $36 million investment round.
The new Lockheed funds will be used to acquire additional assembly space and increase production of satellite modules, Terran said in a statement. The maker of small satellites also said it plans to expand its offerings to include a line of synthetic aperture radar satellites, as well as satellite components and subassemblies such as reaction wheels and star trackers.
The company originally planned to launch and operate its own SAR satellite constellation, PredaSAR, but decided to move away from the plans and offer the technology as a product instead. Terran said the conflict in Ukraine demonstrated the need for improved satellite imagery.
Terran Orbital is one of a handful of space projects that went public through mergers with a special-purpose acquisition vehicle, or SPAC. The company’s stock price rose briefly after news of the deal with Lockheed, which closed at $2.62 per share on October 31. Like other companies since the SPAC merger, Terran’s stock has declined in value since its public market debut; it’s now down about 72% year-to-date.