Earnings Report: What We’re Waiting For

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket launches a satellite for the NRO; the company's next rocket, Neutron, could launch this year. Image: Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launches a satellite for the NRO; the company’s next rocket, Neutron, could launch this year. Image: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab Needs Neutron

The second-busiest US launcher’s losses—and future profits—all hinge on Neutron, a rocket designed to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

CEO Peter Beck said the first hot fires of the new Archimedes engine will set the schedule for the rocket, which the company has ambitiously forecast to be on the launchpad this year.

Neutron numerals: Rocket Lab ($RKLB) lost $136M in 2023, but saw revenue grow 15.9% to $245M. The company raised $355M in convertible debt in January to bolster its balance sheet for potential acquisitions, giving it more than $600M in cash on hand.

Beck also formalized the company’s spacecraft offerings:

  • Photon, a kickstage that debuted four years ago
  • Explorer, a deep space vehicle like the one the company is sending to Venus
  • Pioneer, a vehicle for large payloads based on a recent collaboration with Varda Space
  • Lightning, a LEO satellite bus akin to what the company is building for the SDA 

And it’s not just for customers: “Our ultimate goal is to have our own constellation in orbit,” Beck said.

Virgin Galactic Needs Delta

Virgin Galactic ($SPCE) is pushing ahead with plans to sunset its current rocketplane and build a new Delta class of suborbital vehicles to debut in 2026. The company will fly the VSS Unity one more time in 2024 and then focus on Delta production. 

That’s a big number: The company lost $500M in 2023; it has $982M on its books.

BlackSky Needs Gen-3 Birds

The EO company is working on its next-generation satellites that will be able to capture images with 35-cm resolution. These sats, which will hitch a ride to orbit with Rocket Lab, are in the integration phase and expected to launch this year, according to the company’s earnings presentation. 

On the up and up: BlackSky reported a record yearly revenue of $94.5M in 2023, up 45% from the prior year. And it has high hopes for 2024, with a projected revenue between $102M-$118M.

It could be worse, SPAC edition: Astra ($ASTR) CEO Chris Kemp and CTO Adam London disclosed an offer to buy their company from public investors at 50 cents per share, a 70% discount on its trading price.

Correction: This story originally misreported the purpose of Rocket Lab’s debt raise, which executives say is focused on potential M&A.

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