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Rocket Lab generated $54M in revenues in Q1 2023, +35% YoY

Losses also increase as the AM-centric space company sets sights on continued growth via reusable 3D printed Rutherford engines

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Rocket Lab USA Inc and its subsidiaries generated an impressive $54.9 million in revenues in Q1 2023, growing by an even more impressive 35% over the same period in the previous fiscal year. The company also reported widening losses as it continues to lay the foundations for the continued growth of its orbital launch business, with over $23 invested in R&D in this quarter alone (from $13 million in Q1 2022). The results exceeded the high end of prior guidance for revenue and gross margin. The company also close a new deal with NASA for the launch of four Starling CubeSats to test and demonstrate autonomous swarm technologies

Electron has been delivering rapid and reliable access to orbit for NASA since 2018 and we’re delighted to continue that strong heritage with the Starling mission […]Peter Beck, CEO, Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said: “Rocket Lab started the year strong with three successful Electron missions in the first quarter across our global launch facilities and to date, remains the only commercial U.S. small launch vehicle to successfully deliver satellites to orbit in 2023. At a time when we’re starting to see a contraction of available small rockets, we’re also seeing an increase in launch bookings for Electron launches in 2023 and beyond from new and returning customers across government and commercial sectors. The development of our larger rocket Neutron is continuing at pace with launch and testing facilities expanded, engine hardware being printed at our headquarters in Long Beach, and vehicle hardware in production for upcoming structural tests throughout the year that we expect will keep the program on track. Space Systems also continues its strong performance, with the majority of our products supporting customer missions across several launches in the quarter, and major program milestones reached on Photon spacecraft build programs for government and commercial customers.”

Over the quarter, Rock Lab launched three successful Electron missions in the first quarter for commercial constellation operators HawkEye 360, Capella Space, and BlackSky. It successfully completed its first launch from its U.S. launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, at the Virginia Spaceport Authority’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on January 24, 2023. The mission deployed three satellites for radio frequency geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360.

More accomplishments include the successful completion of the Company’s fastest turnaround between launches to date – just seven days between its 34th Electron launch, “Stronger Together”, from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 in Virginia on March 16, 2023, and its 35th Electron launch, “The Beat Goes On”, from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand on March 24, 2023.

Rocket Lab generated $54M in revenues in Q1 2023, +35% YoY, sets sights on continued growth via reusable 3D printed Rutherford engines

Rocket Lab remains the only U.S. commercial small launch provider to successfully deliver satellites to orbit in 2023. It also secured a multi-mission contract with Capella Space to launch four more dedicated launches on Electron in 2023 and achieved programmatic milestones for the Company’s two Photon spacecraft to support NASA’s ESCAPADE mission to Mars and for the Photon spacecraft for a Varda Space Industries’ mission to manufacture high-value products in zero gravity. Both Photon programs include Rocket Lab star trackers, reaction wheels, solar panels, flight software, and radios – demonstrating the value and strength of the Company’s vertical integration and in-house supply chain.

Business highlights since March 31, 2023, include the successful deployment of two satellites to space for NASA’s TROPICS mission on the first of two dedicated launches on Electron for the constellation scheduled in May 2023. Among the biggest highlights, Rocket Lab signed a deal to launch NASA’s Starling mission, a multi-CubeSat mission to test and demonstrate autonomous swarm technologies, as well as automated space traffic management for groups of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.

The four Starling small satellites have been manifested on an Electron commercial rideshare mission scheduled for lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in Q3 this year.  Rocket Lab will deliver the satellites to space within three months of the contract signing.

The Starling mission is designed to test technologies to enable future “swarm” missions. Spacecraft swarms refer to multiple spacecraft autonomously coordinating their activities to achieve certain goals. Starling will explore technologies for in-space network communications, onboard relative navigation between spacecraft, autonomous maneuver planning and execution, and distributed science autonomy.

“Electron has been delivering rapid and reliable access to orbit for NASA since 2018 and we’re delighted to continue that strong heritage with the Starling mission,” said Beck. “Starling has the potential to revolutionize the way science is done in orbit and we’re immensely proud to make that possible.”

Rocket Lab generated $54M in revenues in Q1 2023, +35% YoY, sets sights on continued growth via reusable 3D printed Rutherford engines

NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate manages the Starling project. The program is based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Starling joins a growing list of NASA missions launched by Rocket Lab since 2018, including the ELaNa-19 educational CubeSat program, the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon, and two dedicated Electron launches for the NASA TROPICS mission.

Rocket Lab also signed multiple new launch contracts on Electron for 2023 for undisclosed commercial satellite customers previously manifested on another small launch vehicle, demonstrating Electron’s strong position as a reliable and dependable ride to orbit for small satellite operators.

Rocket Lab’s new HASTE launch vehicle was introduced: this is a suborbital testbed launch vehicle derived from the Company’s Electron rocket to provide reliable, high-cadence flight test opportunities to support the development of advanced hypersonic systems technology. Finally, Rocket Lab announced that it will fly a pre-launched 3D printed Rutherford engine on an upcoming mission in Q3’23, a major step in evolving the Electron launch vehicle into a reusable rocket.

For the second quarter of 2023, Rocket Lab expects revenue between $60 million and $63 million., with launch Services revenue of approximately $23 million and Space Systems revenue of between $37 million to $40 million.


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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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