22 Mar 2017

Rocket Lab gets cash boost

6:17 pm on 22 March 2017

The country's only rocket company - Rocket Lab - has scooped $US75 million ($NZ107m) in new funds to get it to the stage where it will have its first commercial launch this year.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck Photo: Rocket Lab

The company, founded by Southlander Peter Beck, has attracted a major Silicon Valley investor, Data Collective, as well as more funding from earlier investors, including Sir Stephen Tindall's K1W1 fund.

Mr Beck said the United States was the only place it could sensibly raise money for such a specialised venture.

"All of these guys have seriously deep contacts and networks - not just in financial industries, but in the aerospace industries - and you need to make sure you have the right skills on the team so we can further capital or industry resources," he told RNZ Business.

The company would do test firings "when we're ready" from its Mahia Peninsula launch site in northern Hawke's Bay. Several commercial launches were booked for this year and 18 next year, which he said was just behind the number the United States had last year.

He said Rocket Lab was committed to being a New Zealand venture, despite progressively becoming more US-focussed because of its funding and expanding facilities in California.

"There's a huge content of New Zealand componentry, all the composites and the tanks, and the launch facilities are all New Zealand. The engines and the electronics are manufactured in the US, but everything else in New Zealand based."

The 10-year-old company is valued at about $US1 billion.

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