Peter Beck

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Peter Beck
Beck holding a medal box
Beck receiving the Pickering Medal, 2020
Born1976/1977 (age 45–46)[1]
Invercargill, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
TitleCEO and CTO of Rocket Lab
Children2[2]
Parent

Peter Joseph Beck is a New Zealand entrepreneur and founder of Rocket Lab, an aerospace manufacturer and launch service provider. Before founding the company, Beck worked in various occupations and built rocket-powered contraptions.

Early life[edit]

Beck grew up in Invercargill, New Zealand[3] with two brothers: Andrew and John. His father, Russell Beck, was a museum and art gallery director and gemologist,[4] and his mother was a teacher.[5] As a teenager, he spent time turbocharging an old Mini and launching water rockets.[2] Beck has never attended university.[1]

In 1995, Beck became a tool-and-die-maker apprentice at Fisher & Paykel company. While working there, he taught himself and used the company workshop to experiment with rockets and propellants. Using these tools and materials, he created a rocket bike, rocket-attached scooter, and a jet pack. Later, Beck moved into product design department and bought a cruise missile engine from the United States.[2] He then worked in New Plymouth as a project engineer on a yacht.[6]

He later worked at Industrial Research Limited between 2001 and 2006,[2] working on smart materials, composites and superconductors.[6] While working there, he met Stephen Tindall, who later became an early investor at Rocket Lab.[7] While his wife worked as an engineer in the United States, Beck traveled to Minnesota and met with a rocketeer that he had contacted beforehand. After this travel, he founded Rocket Lab.[6]

Business career[edit]

While contacting potential investors, Beck met New Zealand internet entrepreneur Mark Rocket, later becoming a key seed investor to Rocket Lab.[2] Among other early investors into Rocket Lab was Stephen Tindall, Vinod Khosla, and the New Zealand Government.[7] Three years later, in November 2009, Rocket Lab successfully launched the multi-stage rocket Ātea-1, becoming the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space.[2]

Around 2013, Rocket Lab moved its registration from New Zealand to the United States, and opened headquarters in Huntington Beach, California.[2] The company then developed and first launched the Electron rocket unsuccessfully in May 2017.[8] The rocket's first successful launch happened in January 2018, deploying two CubeSats and the Humanity Star.[9] In May 2022, the company attempted to recover an Electron booster with partial success.[10] As of October 2022, the company has successfully launched in total 28 similar missions out of 31 attempts.

Accolades[edit]

In 2015, Beck received the New Zealander of the Year Award in the Innovator of the Year category.[11] In 2019, he was appointed as an adjunct professor for the University of Auckland.[12] Both Rocket Lab and Beck are awarded the Pickering Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2020.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "10 things about Rocket Lab". National Business Review. 27 May 2017. Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "To infinity and beyond". The New Zealand Herald. 6 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  3. ^ Bradley, Grant (13 October 2016). "Peter Beck: The man with the one million-horsepower rocket". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. ^ Smith, Pat Veltkamp (16 February 2018). "Russell Beck obituary: Saying goodbye to a treasure". Stuff. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Innovation Heroes: Peter Beck". Idealog. 16 April 2015. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Walsh, Frances. "Rocket Lab's Peter Beck and Mark Rocket on their space plans". Metro. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b Bradley, Grant (13 October 2016). "Peter Beck: The man with the one million-horsepower rocket". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  8. ^ "New Zealand space launch is first from a private site". BBC News. 25 May 2017. Archived from the original on 29 March 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  9. ^ Ryan, Holly (21 January 2018). "Blast off! Rocket Lab successfully reaches orbit". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 21 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  10. ^ Korn, Jennifer (2 May 2022). "Rocket Lab says it just used a helicopter to catch a rocket booster as it plummeted back to Earth". CNN. Archived from the original on 3 May 2022. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards celebrate innovation". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 8 May 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  12. ^ Paredes, Divina (3 September 2019). "Peter Beck joins University of Auckland faculty". CIO. Archived from the original on 8 May 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  13. ^ "2020 Pickering Medal: Rocket Lab". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2022.