Since Rocket Lab’s founding in 2006, the company has continuously proven that it is more than a launch company. In 2022, their space systems business brought in over 70% of all revenue while launch revenue only accounted for 30%. This proves that Rocket Lab is dedicated to creating innovative and successful products that can be used by businesses and consumers globally.
With the expanding demand for space systems, companies like United Space Alliance (USA) are investing in new manufacturing capabilities to meet that demand. Reaction wheels are particularly important for space systems, as they allow spacecraft to stay orientationally stable while in space.
With this new contract, Rocket Lab seems to be doing really well. The company plans to use the reaction wheel in a mega constellation, which is an extremely high-powered space telescope. This could mean great things for Rocket Lab’s future, as it appears that they have found a customer that appreciates their products.
Rocket Lab’s $3 million deal with NASA to procure reaction wheels is a big win for the Kiwi startup, as it helps them scale up manufacturing and meet customer demand. The reaction wheels are crucial components in satellites and probes, and are used to stabilize them in space. The company plans to use the funds recouped from this contract to continue developing itslaunch vehicles as well as ramp up production of its Rutherford engine, which it says is “a game changer” for small satellites launches.
Spice’s new high-volume production facility in New Zealand allowed the company to bring the cost of its reaction wheels down by almost an order of magnitude. This is especially important given that reactions wheels are becoming increasingly commonplace in aerial vehicles and robotic systems, making them more accessible to smaller tech companies.
Spice said that this megacontract is just the beginning for its reaction wheel business – and that it plans to grow rapidly in order to serve larger customers. The company’s Reaction Wheel Division is currently shipping two or three thousand units per year, but Spice hopes to increase that number significantly in order to meet the needs of even larger conglomerates. The Reaction Wheel Division is a key part of Spice’s ambitions, as the division provides manufacturing and shipping support for large-scale industrial applications. Whether it be servicing megacorporations or developing innovative new products, Spice intends on being a major player in the industry – and its Reaction Wheel Division proves just that.
One potential candidate for the unnamed customer is Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a secretive asteroid mining initiative that the company has been working on for years. OneWeb, which is rapidly building its network of small satellites to provide higher-speed internet and other services across the globe, could also be a contender for this customer. SpaceX has demonstrated that it wants to stay in-house as much as possible for its production stack, however, so Starlink isn’t likely.
The estimated cost of a mega constellation of 12Nms reaction wheels is reportedly $100,000 per unit. Assuming that the price per unit is discounted to account for the large quantity ordered, this implies a potential win for Rocket Lab’s revenues and a jump in backlog last year from $241 million to $503 million. The expected milestone payments associated with the mega constellation contract would further boost profitability.