Boca space-tech company building ‘world’s largest’ space vehicle manufacturing facility

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, together with Space Florida, the economic development agency,  announced this morning that a Florida company would be developing the “world’s largest and most advanced space vehicle manufacturing facility” on the state’s Space Coast. Turns out that company developing the facility is Boca Raton-based Terran Orbital, a leader in end-to-end satellite solutions, and it’s backed by a  Miami-based VC firm.

The $300 million investment will create about 2,100 jobs averaging $84K a year by the end of 2025.

“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. 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,” the governor said in a statement.

The 660,000-square-foot manufacturing plant — what Terran Orbital calls Phase 1 — will go up in the Launch and Landing Facility,  the former landing site for the shuttle program adjacent to Kennedy Space Center. It will consist of 10 automated and augmented hangers capable of producing thousands of different types of space vehicles per year, the company said. Space Florida will help arrange financing.

Terran Orbital, founded in 2013, specializes in small satellites with remote sensors to capture images of activity on the Earth’s surface. Its subsidiaries include Boca-Raton-based PredaSAR, which plans to launch its own low-Earth-orbit constellation, and Tyvak. Terran joins other space companies that have built facilities on the Space Coast in recent years, including  OneWeb Satellites, Sierra Nevada Corp., Blue Origin, SpaceX and others that are part of what Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello has called the space industry’s “commercialization renaissance.”

“We are pleased to partner with Space Florida to build a facility that we view as a national asset: a commercially funded contribution to our nation’s space industrial base.” said Marc Bell, co-founder and CEO of Terran Orbital, in a statement.  “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.”

In comments to the Orlando Sentinel, Bell, a space entrepreneur and investor, said the plant will be able to produce 1,000 satellites, mostly small “cube sats,” a year. It has partnerships with Lockheed Martin and develops cube sats for commercial, civil and government launches, Bell said in the media report. “To be fair, you probably have never heard of us ‘til today, and that’s OK. We’re currently listed on billions of dollars of U.S. government programs and growing at an incredible rate. For us, Space Florida is the perfect place to tell the world who we are and why we’re going to continue to dominate the small satellite marketplace,” he said.

Miami-based Fuel Venture Capital, which recently moved into a new headquarters in Coconut Grove, is a strategic investor in Terran Orbital and its PredaSAR subsidiary.

“Helping to create thousands of high paying jobs is one of the wonderful benefits of being a venture capitalist here in South Florida,” said Jeff Ransdell, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Fuel Venture Capital. “I’m very proud of Marc Bell and what he has built and I am excited to see his dreams come to realization.”

Rendering at the top of the post is from Terran Orbital.

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Nancy Dahlberg