Rocket Lab pushes to get launch business back on track, with 22 Electron missions booked next year


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Peter Beck, chief executive officer of Rocket Lab, speaks during the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Aerospace Summit in Washington, D.C., Sept 14, 2022.
Valerie Plesch | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rocket Lab is pushing to get its launch business back on track by the end of the year, reporting on Wednesday third-quarter results that saw continued strength in its space systems division.

The company reported a net loss of $40.6 million, or 8 cents per share, just edging out a loss of 9 cents a share expected, according to analysts surveyed by LSEG (formerly Refinitiv). Year over year, Rocket Lab’s third quarter net loss widened by about 17%.

Revenue grew 7% year over year in the third quarter to $67.6 million, in line with Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

Rocket Lab’s launch business saw $21.3 million in revenue in the third quarter, with a mid-September mission failure halting the company’s momentum. Rocket Lab expects to resume Electron launches as soon as Nov. 28, with a mission for Japanese satellite imagery company iQPS.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a news release that the launch failure was due to “a highly complex set of conditions,” but that the company’s investigation identified an electrical issue in the rocket’s power supply system as the likely cause. The company is putting “corrective measures in place,” Beck said.

“We’ve been laser-focused this quarter on the return to service of Electron,” Beck said in a statement, adding that the company expects “to formally close our investigation in the coming weeks.”

The company has “fully” booked up its schedule of Electron missions for next year, with 22 launches currently expected in 2024.

As has become typical, Rocket Lab’s space systems unit brought in the majority of its revenue, with $46.3 million this quarter, up 17% year over year.

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Its contract backlog increased 9% from the previous quarter, rising by $48.1 million to $582 million.

Beck highlighted that Rocket Lab is making progress in developing its next-generation Neutron vehicle, achieving recent milestones in both the structure and engines of the rocket.

For the fourth quarter, Rocket Lab expects revenue between $65 million and $69 million, with just $16.5 million in revenue from its launch business. With its Electron launches expected to resume, Rocket Lab sees first quarter 2024 revenue climbing to between $95 million and $105 million.

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