Friday, June 21, 2024

Rocket Lab Joins the Elite Club - in First Place!

Rocket Lab had a momentous launch on Thursday afternoon (UTC and EDT) from their launch complex on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula, successfully launching five satellites for France-based internet of things (IOT) company, KinĂ©is. The launch was at 6:13 a.m. NZST on Friday, June 21 (that was Thursday, June 20 at 2:13 p.m. US EDT, or 1813 UTC on June 20).

The big deal is that this was the 50th successful launch for Rocket Lab's Electron, a number that puts them in elite company. Furthermore, they are the fastest ever to achieve that milestone, just seven years after the vehicle’s debut in May 2017 and months ahead of the time it took SpaceX. 

A graph of commercially-developed, orbital-class rockets and how quickly they reached or approached 50 launches. Image credit: Rocket Lab

Prior to Electron’s 50th launch, Sir Peter Beck, the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, said he and his team are immensely proud of reaching this milestone in the time that they did.

“Out of all the commercially developed rockets in the world, Electron reaching 50, we did it in the fastest amount of time. So, we scaled faster to 50 than anybody else, faster than the Falcon 9, faster than Pegasus, faster than anything else commercially,” Beck said. “And that’s a really hard thing to do because whether it’s a giant rocket or a little rocket, the scaling element is the same and it’s super, super hard.”

Congratulatory tweet about the launch. Dark at 6:13 AM? Don't forget it's the second day of winter there.

It's worth noting that when Peter Beck started down the road to this moment, there not only was no company called Rocket Lab, there was no launch industry, and very little space industry at all in New Zealand. Rocket Lab essentially started the entire space industry in the country. While they've become a multinational corporation and started launching from Virginia, they still do most of their launches from their original launch complex on the Mahia peninsula. 

The Electron is a small rocket, and while they're launching regularly for a group of customers including U.S. agencies like the National Reconnaissance Office and the U.S. Space Force as well as preparing for a planetary mission to Mars with Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket as the ride to space, they're also working hard on development of their bigger, booster, Neutron.  

Congratulations to Sir Beck and the entire team at Rocket Lab. 


  1. Good for them. Excellent for the Space Industry. Am looking forward to what they do next.

  2. I'm not convinced by the gushing. Is it caused by reusing existing tech instead of developing new like SpaceX? Are they under a comparable iron-handed bureaucracy? Do they get the lion's share of NZ space tax dollars ala ULA?
    It also seems like 'the first gay black woman ever to...' type of scam story.
    I'm glad we don't have to put up with that 'Sir Beck' nonsense.

  3. Assuming he's been knighted (and I'm too lazy to check), the correct way to refer to him would be Sir Steve Beck or a little more informally, Sir Steve.

    I'd be surprised if he insisted on the honorific being used as most don't bother, like many with PhDs.

    1. That's purely "my bad." The source articles referred to him as Sir Peter Beck and not just his last name. I don't think I've ever used the title in the years I've been writing about Rocket Lab. Like most people who end up being named, I'll typically call him just by his last name in an article after typically one use of his full name.

  4. Sir Steve is a laugh. I'd call him that!