Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Rocket Lab Raises $140 Million in Funding

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
November 15, 2018
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Electron It’s Business Time lift-off (Credits: Kieran Fanning & Sam Toms)

  • Rocket Lab reveals $140 million (USD) funding in Series E financing, closed in advance of the company’s second successful orbital mission, ‘It’s Business Time’ on 11 November.
  • Investors show continued ardent support in pre-‘It’s Business Time’ launch round led by existing backers Future Fund (Australia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund), with participation from current investors Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Promus Ventures, and K1W1.
  • New investor, the Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand (ACC), also joins the round.
  • Funding will support continued Electron vehicle production expansion, new launch sites and three new major research and development programs.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., November 15, 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) – US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has closed a Series E financing round of $140 million (USD). The funding round closed last month, prior to the launch of the successful mission ‘It’s Business Time,’ and was led by existing investor Future Fund, with strong participation from current investors including Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Promus Ventures and K1W1. New investor ACC also contributed to the round. The Series E round close brings total Rocket Lab funding to date to more than $288 million (USD), with the company now soaring past its previous $1 billion-plus (USD) valuation.

“It has been a big year for Rocket Lab with two successful missions to orbit and another about to roll out to the pad, but it’s even more significant for the global small satellite industry that now has a fully commercial, dedicated ride to space,” said Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck. “This funding also enables the continued aggressive scale-up of Electron production to support our targeted weekly flight rate. It will also see us build additional launch pads and begin work on three major new R&D programs.”

The round also follows the opening of Rocket Lab’s new mass production facility for the Electron vehicle last month, as well as the announcement confirming the location of Rocket Lab’s second orbital launch site. Construction has now begun on Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, which is based within the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA. Launch Complex 2 can support monthly orbital launches from US soil, and is designed specifically to serve the responsive space needs of government customers. Between the two Rocket Lab launch complexes, the company can support up to 130 orbital missions per year.

Comments from Rocket Lab investors

Sven Strohband – Partner and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Khosla Ventures

“Rocket Lab is a truly remarkable company. We were fortunate enough to follow Rocket Lab’s journey from their initial engine program to the first launch, the factory scale-up and now the start of commercial operations, all of which happened in record time,” said Sven Strohband, Partner and CTO of Khosla Ventures and Rocket Lab Board member. “We are proud to continue to support Peter and the amazing Rocket Lab team in their journey to open space for all and are excited about the next chapter.”

Matt Ocko – Managing Partner, DCVC (Data Collective)

“We were privileged to lead Rocket Lab’s prior round, and continue to be committed strongly to this superb team in this round and beyond,” said Matt Ocko, Managing Partner of DCVC (Data Collective) and Rocket Lab board member. “We saw proof of Rocket Lab’s transformative cost and frequency of launch just in the number of DCVC’s own next-gen ‘scale-out space’ companies enabled by Rocket Lab, let alone the hundreds more lined up for this disruptive orbital access capability.”

Mike Collett – Founder and Managing Partner, Promus Ventures

“There are few companies that have set out to achieve something as big as the Rocket Lab team and accomplished their goal as quickly as they have. The exciting part of the story is there is so much more left to write. Promus Ventures is privileged to be able to back Rocket Lab and its talented global team and platform.”

David Cowan – Partner, Bessemer Ventures Partners

“We see hundreds of start-ups gearing up to replace billion-dollar mainframes in Geosynchronous Orbit with constellations of cheaper, faster, better micro-sats,” said David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners, who serves on Rocket Lab’s board. “Rocket Lab alone now provides the predictable, frequent and affordable launch capability critical for this new ecosystem.”

Sir Stephen Tindall – Founder, K1W1

“The team at Rocket Lab has been inspirational and have now proved themselves to be the only operational private small launch provider globally. Their contribution to the NZ tech sector will continue to increase as they ramp up the launch frequency.”

4 responses to “Rocket Lab Raises $140 Million in Funding”

  1. Jonathan A. Goff says:

    I’m really curious what the 3 major R&D efforts are going to be.


    • Cameron says:

      Based on the interviews of Peter Beck and other info out there about Rocketlab, I’m going to guess that it is upgrades to the existing tech, focused around satellite deployment, flexibility, ease of manufacture and integration and launch cadence (as opposed to new engines and vehicles).

      • savuporo says:

        Which is great, getting the launch cadence to any interesting levels depends on integration and deployment if payloads to get streamlined a lot.

        Another thing they might be investing in is kick stage longevity and micropropulsion, for even greater flexibility in delivering payloads.

  2. duheagle says:

    The most significant aspect of this announcement is the identity of the one new investor. The Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand is a government insurance company that provides single-payer, no fault compensation for accidental injuries of all kinds. This investment is of what used to be referred to as “widows and orphans money,” not conventional venture capital. Rocket Lab is now the second launch services company to receive such an investment, the first being Fidelity’s investment in SpaceX almost four years ago. This is just one more way in which Rocket Lab resembles a newer, thus-far-smaller version of SpaceX.

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