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Launch company Rocket Lab goes public

A Rocket Lab Electron booster carrying the StriX-α Earth-imaging satellite for the Japanese company Synspective lifts off from the company's Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Dec. 15, 2020.
A Rocket Lab Electron booster carrying the StriX-α Earth-imaging satellite for the Japanese company Synspective lifts off from the company's Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Dec. 15, 2020. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab is the latest space company to go public.

California-based Rocket Lab, which has launched more than 100 small satellites to orbit with its Electron booster to date, has completed its previously announced merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Rocket Lab began trading on the Nasdaq market Wednesday (Aug. 25), under the ticker symbol "RKLB."

Nasdaq celebrated the milestone, inviting Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck to ring the market's opening bell Wednesday morning.

In photos: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster

The SPAC merger, with a San Francisco-based company called Vector Acquisition Corporation, provides Rocket Lab with about $777 million. The funds will aid the development of multiple projects, including Rocket Lab's big, next-generation Neutron rocket, company representatives said.

"Our team is motivated by the enormous impact we can have on Earth by making it easier to get to space and to do incredible things there. We are excited to be making that a reality by embarking on our next chapter as a public company," Beck said in a statement Wednesday

"With our Electron rocket and Photon spacecraft, we've simplified space, making it easy and affordable for companies, scientists, governments and entrepreneurs alike to get their ideas to orbit," he added. "Today, we take the next step toward unlocking the full potential of space, paving the way for our larger Neutron launch vehicle which will deploy the constellations of the future, and supporting our potential future expansion into space applications. I am thrilled to declare space open for business."

Going public is something of a trend in the space business these days. For example, Rocket Lab competitor Astra went public on June 30, becoming the first launch company ever to do so. (Astra co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp got to ring the Nasdaq bell, too.) And another small-satellite launch company, Virgin Orbit, announced a SPAC deal of its own just this week. 

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Space.com since 2010. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.