Rocket Lab

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Rocket Lab Ltd.
Founder Peter Beck[1]
Headquarters Headquarters Los Angeles, CA,
Key people
Peter Beck, CEO
Website Official website

Rocket Lab Ltd. is an American aerospace company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It has a subsidiary office headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand.[2] It is developing the Electron rocket to provide high-frequency rocket launches to Earth orbit.


Former Crown Research scientist Peter Beck is its founder, CEO and Technical Director. Internet entrepreneur Mark Rocket was the seed investor and co-Director from 2007 to 2011.[3]

In December 2010 Rocket Lab was awarded a US contract from the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) to study a low cost space launcher to place nanosatellites into orbit.[4][5][6][7]

Funding has been obtained from Bessemer Venture Partners, Callaghan Innovation, in 2014, and from Khosla Ventures in 2013.[8][9]

In February 2015, Rocket Lab USA was evaluating Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a possible launch site.[10]

Rocket Lab announced it selected the Kaitorete Spit, at the southern end of Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, to be the site of its commercial space center in July 2015.[11]

Sounding rockets[edit]


The first launch of the Ātea-1 (Māori for 'space') suborbital sounding rocket occurred in late 2009.[12] The 6-metre (20 ft) long rocket weighing 60 kg is designed to carry a 2 kg payload to an altitude of 120 km.[13] It was intended to carry scientific payloads or possibly personal items.[14][15][dated info]

Ātea-1 was successfully launched from Great Mercury Island near Coromandel on 30 November 2009 at 2:30 pm after fueling problems delayed the scheduled 7:10 am liftoff.[16]


A larger Ātea-2 series rocket was reported[by whom?] to be under development.[17][when?]

Electron launch vehicle[edit]

In July 2014 it was announced that the company is developing a rocket called Electron, a carbon composite rocket with a payload to orbit of 110 kilograms (240 lb) and a projected cost of less than US$5 million per launch.[18] As of July 2014, the first test launch is planned for 2015.[1]

In April 2015, the company announced the details of the Electron's Rutherford engines. This engine uses pumps that are uniquely powered by battery-powered electric motors rather than a gas generator, expander, or preburner.[19] The engine is also fabricated largely by 3D printing, via electron beam melting,[20] whereby layers of metal powder are melted in a high vacuum by an electron beam rather than a laser.


  1. ^ a b Messier, Doug (2014-07-29). "Rocket Lab Announces New Small Satellite Launcher". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  2. ^ "Rocket Lab USA poised to change the space industry". 29 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Home". Mark Rocket. 
  4. ^ Rocket Lab News, Webarchive: "December 2010 - Rocket Lab was awarded a US contract from the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) to study low cost international alternatives. Included in this study is a 640,000Ns booster, a miniature avionics system and a launch vehicle to place small mass satellites into polar and low Earth orbits."
  5. ^ "Rocket Research & Development Based in New Zealand". Rocket Lab. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  6. ^ "New Zealand Rocketry Association (NZRA) - Rocketry Links". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  7. ^ "NZ set to join the space age". NZPA. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Rocket Lab". Khosla Ventures. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Messier, Doug (2014-07-30). "A Look at Rocket Lab Funding Sources". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  10. ^ Dean, James (6 February 2015). "New rocket company looks at Cape Canaveral for launches". Florida Today. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Lauren (1 July 2015). "Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Cooper, Tracy (2009-11-30). "NZ's first space rocket launches". Waikato Times. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  13. ^ "Ātea-1 technical specifications". Rocket Lab. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. 
  14. ^ "Rocket project gears for take off". The New Zealand Herald. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  15. ^ Goldsmith, Rob (16 November 2009). "Rocket lab primed to launch new zealand’s first rocket into space". Space Fellowship website. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  16. ^ "NZ's first space launch saved by $6 replacement part". The New Zealand Herald. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Ātea-2 technical specifications". Rocket Lab. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. 
  18. ^ Ryan, Sophie (2014-07-29). "NZ to get its own space programme by 2015". The New Zealand Herald. APNZ. 
  19. ^ Bradley, Grant (2015-04-15). "Rocket Lab unveils world's first battery rocket engine". The New Zealand Herald. 
  20. ^ Grush, Loren (2015-04-15). "A 3D-Printed, Battery-Powered Rocket Engine". Popular Science.