Lockheed Martin actually used SolAero technologies on its previous generation of missile defense satellites, so continuing work with the now-Rocket-Lab-owned company may seem like a no-brainer. In fact, as SpaceNews points out, the deal to supply solar power units for Next-Gen OPIR satellites was in the works before Rocket Lab acquired SolAero.
Lockheed Martin produced six of its previous generation satellites, called the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), in total. For the next-gen satellites, Rocket Lab will provide solar cells and Coverglass Interconnected Cell (CIC) assemblies. These are designed to withstand the harsh environment of space, including radiation and harsh thermal conditions.
Rocket Lab, which was also founded in 1998 in New Zealand, is known for some pretty out-there designs, including its Hungry Hungry Hippo-inspired fairing and its system for catching first-stage rocket boosters out of the sky with helicopters. The company also recently helped NASA launch its CAPSTONE smallsat towards the Moon in a mission that will pave the way for the space agency’s lunar Gateway project.