Rocket Lab today unveiled plans for its Neutron rocket, an advanced 8-ton payload class launch vehicle tailored for mega-constellation deployment, interplanetary missions and human spaceflight.
Neutron will build on Rocket Lab’s proven experience developing the reliable workhorse Electron launch vehicle, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019. Where Electron provides dedicated access to orbit for small satellites of up to 300 kg (660 lb), Neutron will transform space access for satellite constellations and provide a dependable, high-flight-rate dedicated launch solution for larger commercial and government payloads.
“Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron. Now we’re unlocking a new category with Neutron,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO.
The medium-lift Neutron rocket will be a two-stage launch vehicle that stands 40 meters (131 feet) tall with a 4.5-meter (14.7 ft) diameter fairing and a lift capacity of up to 8,000 kg (8 metric tons) to low-Earth orbit, 2,000 kg to the Moon (2 metric tons), and 1,500 kg to Mars and Venus (1.5 metric tons). Neutron will feature a reusable first stage designed to land on an ocean platform, enabling a high launch cadence and decreased launch costs for customers. Initially designed for satellite payloads, Neutron will also be capable of International Space Station (ISS) resupply and human spaceflight missions.
Neutron launches will take place from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. By leveraging the existing launch pad and integration infrastructure at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Rocket Lab eliminates the need to build a new pad, accelerating the timeline to first launch, expected in 2024.
Rocket Lab, an End-to-End Space Company and Global Leader in Launch, to Become Publicly Traded Through Merger with Vector Acquisition Corporation
End-to-end space company with an established track record, uniquely positioned to extend its lead across a launch, space systems and space applications market forecast to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2030
One of only two U.S. commercial companies delivering regular access to orbit: 97 satellites deployed for governments and private companies across 16 missions
Second most frequently launched U.S. orbital rocket, with proven Photon spacecraft platform already operating on orbit and missions booked to the Moon, Mars and Venus
Transaction will provide capital to fund development of reusable Neutron launch vehicle with an 8-ton payload lift capacity tailored for mega constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight
Transaction is expected to close in Q2 2021, upon which Rocket Lab will be publicly listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker RKLB
Current Rocket Lab shareholders will own 82% of the pro forma equity of combined company