Rocket Lab garners $206 million from investors, including ACC and Stephen Tindall

ACC is the newest investor in NZ-based, US rocket company Rocket Lab.
MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ
ACC is the newest investor in NZ-based, US rocket company Rocket Lab.

New Zealand-based rocket launching company Rocket Lab has received $206 million in funding, including from its newest investor, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

The funding round closed last month, prior to the launch of the successful mission "It's Business Time".

Earlier this week Rocket Lab launched its first commercial Electron rocket  into orbit from Hawke's Bay's Mahia Peninsula, after months of fruitless attempts.

Rocket Lab chief executive and founder Peter Beck said with ACC on board, more Kiwis could share in the company's success.

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"Rocket Lab's success is a global effort, but our story started in New Zealand, so we're thrilled to have ACC on board as an investor. In addition to the 200-plus highly skilled roles Rocket Lab has created in New Zealand, the investment from ACC enables us to help more Kiwis share in the company's success," Beck said. 

The other investors included Sir Stephen Tindall's K1W1, the Australian Sovereign Wealth Fund (Future Fund), Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective) and Promus Ventures.

To date, Rocket Lab has had more than $423m in funding.

The company was valued at US$1 billion (NZ$1.4b) last year.

Rocket Lab launched its first Electron rocket "Still Testing" in January.

(L-R) , Mayor Phil Goff, PM Jacinda Ardern, Actor William Shatner, US Ambassador Scott Brown and Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck during the opening of the new Rocket Lab factory on October 12, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.
GETTY/PHIL WALTER
(L-R) , Mayor Phil Goff, PM Jacinda Ardern, Actor William Shatner, US Ambassador Scott Brown and Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck during the opening of the new Rocket Lab factory on October 12, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Beck said it had been a big year for the rocket company with two successful missions to orbit and another planned to launch before the end of the year.

"This funding also enables the continued aggressive scale-up of Electron production to support our targeted weekly flight rate," Beck said.

"It will also see us build additional launch pads and begin work on three major new R&D programs."

Tindall said the team at Rocket Lab was inspirational.

"The team at Rocket Lab 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," Tindall said.

Sunday's launch was commanded from Rocket Lab's new rocket factory in Auckland's Mount Wellington.

Sir Stephen Tindall says Rocket Lab is an inspirational company.
ROBERT CHARLES/STUFF
Sir Stephen Tindall says Rocket Lab is an inspirational company.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Hollywood actor William Shatner were at the facility's earlier opening.

The 7500 sq m mass production site in Mount Wellington will add to Rocket Lab's existing production facility and headquarters in California.

Beck said the company had expanded its global production, to launch an Electron rocket to orbit every week by 2020.

"Every detail of the Rocket Lab launch system has been designed to provide small satellites with rapid and reliable access to space," Beck said.

The launching service will allow satellites to be transported, used for apps like Uber or Google Maps.

Electron launch vehicles will undergo final assembly in Mount Wellington, where all parts will go through a streamlined process for testing and integration into the rocket before its launch from the Māhia Peninsula.