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New Space Launch Unicorn Rocket Lab Announces $140 Million Investment

Rocket Lab’s Electron ‘Still Testing’ launch vehicle lifts off from its New Zealand launch pad on 21 January, 2018. Photograph courtesy of Rocket Lab.

U.S. New Space launch provider Rocket Lab has closed a Series E financing round of U.S.$140 million. 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 U.S.$288 million, with the company now soaring past its previous U.S.$1 billion-plus 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 in October 2018, 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, United States. Launch Complex 2 can support monthly orbital launches from U.S. 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.

Rocket Lab’s numerous investors praised the company following the close of the funding round.

“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.”

“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.”

“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,” Mike Collett, Founder and Managing Partner at Promus Ventures, said.

“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.”

“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 New Zealand tech sector will continue to increase as they ramp up the launch frequency,” added Sir Stephen Tindall, Founder of K1W1.

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