Rocket Lab’s Achievements and the Future of Small Satellite Launch Services

Jun 9, 2024 | Stock Analysis

Rocket Lab has emerged as a leading player in the small satellite launch services market, providing flexible and regular access to space for customers worldwide. With its Electron rocket, Rocket Lab is revolutionizing the way small satellites are deployed, addressing the increasing demand for frequent and cost-effective launches. This report explores Rocket Lab’s latest achievements in small satellite technology and assesses their potential impact on the future of space exploration.

    Electron: A Game-Changer

    Rocket Lab’s Electron is a two-stage rocket designed to carry small payloads (up to 150 kg) to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 km. Standing 17 m tall and 1.2 m in diameter, the Electron has a lift-off mass of 13,000 kg, making it ideal for deploying small satellites. The Rutherford engine, which powers both stages of the Electron rocket, is an oxygen/hydrocarbon engine that uses additive manufacturing (3D printing) for all primary components of its combustor and propellant supply system, enabling faster production and lower costs.

    A series of successful test flights and customer missions have demonstrated Rocket Lab’s capability to deliver reliable small satellite launch services. The Electron rocket has completed 25 missions as of 2023, deploying a total of 186 satellites into orbit. In January 2024, the company achieved its fastest turnaround time between two missions, launching an Electron rocket just nine days after the previous mission.

    Market Presence

    Rocket Lab has raised $148 million in funding from prominent investors like Khosla Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Data Collective, Promus Ventures, and Lockheed Martin. With this capital infusion, the company expanded its operations by opening an office in Huntington Beach, California, and increasing production floor space at its Auckland facility.

    Rocket Lab’s customer base includes government agencies like NASA and commercial entities such as Moon Express and Spire. To cater to a growing market for small satellite launch services, Rocket Lab has developed the Photon platform, which provides customers with customizable satellite buses and mission management services. By offering end-to-end solutions encompassing spacecraft design, manufacturing, and launch services, Rocket Lab is positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for small satellite operators.

    The TROPICS Mission

    In 2023, NASA selected Rocket Lab to provide dedicated rideshare missions for the Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) program. TROPICS aims to study tropical cyclones and improve hurricane forecasting models by launching four CubeSats into low Earth orbit. This collaboration highlights Rocket Lab’s ability to address the unique requirements of scientific missions, further solidifying its position in the space industry.

    The Future

    As small satellite launch services gain traction, the market is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. Rocket Lab’s innovations and achievements have set new standards for small satellite launches, but the company faces challenges in maintaining its competitive edge amid increasing competition from emerging players like ABL Space Systems, Relativity Space, and Firefly Aerospace.

    In response to these challenges, Rocket Lab is pursuing opportunities to expand its product portfolio and market presence. In addition to small satellite launch services, the company has announced plans to develop a reusable rocket called Neutron, targeting medium-lift missions carrying payloads up to 8 metric tons to orbit. By diversifying its offerings and tapping into new segments of the space industry, Rocket Lab aims to secure its position as a key player in the future of small satellite launch services and beyond.


    Rocket Lab’s accomplishments in small satellite launch services have revolutionized the way small satellites are deployed, providing customers with cost-effective and reliable access to space. With an expanding customer base and increasing investments, Rocket Lab is well-positioned to maintain its competitive edge in the growing market for small satellite launch services.

    The company’s continued innovations, such as the Photon platform and the Neutron rocket, demonstrate its commitment to addressing the evolving needs of small satellite operators and capturing new opportunities in the space industry. As Rocket Lab navigates the challenges and opportunities ahead, it is poised to shape the future of small satellite launch services, driving technological advancements that will benefit both commercial and scientific missions. Selection deleted

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