On August 10, 2023, U.S. based Rocket Lab announced their Second Quarter financial results for 2023. Business reports were positive, with solid performance and three successful launches with the small-lift Electron.
Concluded on June 30th, Rocket Lab published a detailed release on the company’s website. Apart from the financial information, there were acknowledgments and announcements concerning acquisitions of new assets and new launch contracts.
Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO remarked on the success of the Electron launches, stating they are a “testament to the experienced team and infrastructure we’ve put in place to enable rapid, reliable, and repeatable launch”. Details on proven and in-development technologies have also been mentioned.
Three successful launches and counting…
Rocket Lab saw three launches in rapid succession, from May to the end of June, with just three weeks between each other. The first launch, as well as the second one on May 18th, was a part of the NASA TROPICS mission, as we have detailed in another article. Both rockets lifted off from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and carried their payloads successfully into orbit.
The next mission, dubbed “Scout’s Arrow” launched from the brand new Launch Complex 2. The new complex was built inside NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, already well-known for Antares launches. This was the first liftoff for Rocket Lab’s HASTE rocket, based on Electron. The new suborbital hypersonic testbed had been selected by Leidos Inc. to conduct a large-scale test of Dynetics’ MACH-TB program. As reported by the American company, the mission was a success, demonstrating the great capabilities of the new Rocket Lab’s vehicle.
The company also focused its report on the good results achieved by supplies of single components and systems for satellites. According to the report, there are now 17 satellites in orbit with some Rocket Lab components.
Its Photon spacecraft, used by other companies and agencies for various purposes and missions, has also yielded results. One notable case is Varda, which leans on the Photon craft to offer pharmaceutical production capabilities in space.
Neutron picks up pace
Rocket Lab has bigger plans in mind concerning its future. The Neutron reusable medium-lift vehicle is taking shape with speed. In their financial report, they announced some assets of the now-bankrupt Virgin Orbit have been acquired. The acquisition has brought in some savings, and assets are now being used to accelerate the development of Neutron even more.
Rocket Lab also confirmed (with pictures) that a first qualification test tank for the Neutron second stage has been completed, paving the way for the production of a first prototype.
A test stand for cryogenic testing has also been completed, and work is progressing on the Neutron Launch Pad, and production facility.
The new facilities are being built in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, and their construction will pick up pace in the third quarter, according to the company. Earthworks are continuing steadily to build the launch pad in the southern sector of Wallops Island.
The production facility will occupy more than 28 acres of land and comprise a Launch Control Center. State-of-the-art robotic carbon fiber machinery will also be installed in the facility, to build core Neutron components on-site.
Rocket Lab’s activities are progressing, with new missions and contracts being announced after June 30th. On July 18, the company successfully launched a rideshare mission that served various customers, and also successfully recovered the Electron first stage.
New contracts have also been signed, including agreements with Synspective and BlackSky for satellite constellations, along with a new HASTE customer, set to launch from Launch Complex 2. In addition, Rocket Lab announced being selected by NASA to launch PREFIRE, a program to better monitor climate change impacts in the Arctic.
Rocket Lab is growing, both in reach and ambition. Their Electron Rocket is moving towards reusability, Neutron is taking shape, and various missions are using their technologies for numerous tasks. And their next mission dubbed “We Love the Nightlife” will be launching on August 24.