Rocket Lab Projects Busy 12 Months

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches Second Mission for Synspective, Deploys 110th Satellite to Orbit
Image via Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab ($RKLB) fired off a number of key business updates on Tuesday’s earnings call. To start, the company reported robust Q4 revenue of $51.8M, an 88% YoY increase. 

The business outlook

Rocket Lab’s backlog increased from $241M in Q4 ‘21 to $504M at the end of 2022. 

Strong order volume is driven largely by the company’s Space Systems division, but two recent launch contract wins helped boost the order book:

  • Capella signed a four-launch deal with Rocket Lab, scheduled to begin in mid-2023. Capella has already completed one mission with the company in 2020, and has a second flight scheduled for later this month. 
  • Spaceflight Inc. brokered the launch of two LeoStella-made, BlackSky-operated satellites on The Beat Goes On (Rocket Lab’s next mission). 

Gone fishing: Rocket Lab says it may abandon the acrobatic attempt to recover boosters via helicopter. The alternative (and only proven) method—parachuting the booster into the ocean and fishing it out—has worked well, and hasn’t resulted in too much wear-and-tear on the first stage.

Neutron update 

Rocket Lab is making headway on developing Neutron, its medium-lift, next-gen rocket.  The company completed construction of its Neutron build and test site near NASA Wallops and broke ground on the rocket’s new pad to boot. Neutron’s maiden flight is penciled in for Q1 2024. 

Taking a hit: Management estimates that Neutron’s all-in development costs will be in the neighborhood of $250M, leading to significant projected losses this year. Q1 Adjusted EBITDA losses are forecasted to top $28M, while the company indicated total losses for the year could surpass $100M. 

+ What else? Rocket Lab is targeting 15 launches in 2023.

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