“Rocket Lab is a private American aerospace manufacturer and smallsat launcher with a wholly owned New Zealand subsidiary. It has developed a suborbital sounding rocket named Ātea and currently operates a lightweight orbital rocket known as the Electron, which provides dedicated launches for smallsats and cubesats.
The Electron test program began in May 2017, with commercial flights announced by the company to occur at a price listed in early 2018 as US$5.7 million. Launching from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, the rocket’s test flights took place on 25 May 2017 and 21 January 2018, while its first commercial flight took place on 11 November 2018.
Rocket Lab was founded in 2006 by New Zealander Peter Beck, the company’s CEO and CTO. Internet entrepreneur and fellow New Zealander Mark Rocket was the seed investor and co-director from 2007 to 2011. In 2009, Rocket Lab claimed it had become the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space with the Ātea-1 sounding rocket. The payload was not recovered. This was not deemed necessary. As an instrumentation dart, the payload was not powered; its trajectory depended only on the boost phase of flight. The boost stage was ...