Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck Building Business in Space
Self-taught New Zealand-born scientist and CEO of Rocket Lab Peter Beck, 39, explains to accountancy industry magazine Acuity how – and why – he is making space more accessible.
At its Auckland base, Rocket Lab is working to provide frequent, low-cost rocket launch services to a growing international small satellite industry, which enables service including telecommunications and navigation. It aims to provide at least 100 launches per year. Test flights will launch from New Zealand this year, with the first commercial launches scheduled for 2017.
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a customer. Another in US company Moon Express, which has enlisted Rocket Lab to launch three missions to the moon, hoping for touchdown next year. They chose Rocket Lab for its ability to reduce the cost and time involved in putting together a mission, Beck says.
“This will be the very first private mission out of low Earth orbit. It’s a massive milestone for humanity, really, and we’re just really honoured to be a part of the mission,” Beck says.
Beck founded Rocket Lab in 2007 and established the company in New Zealand and the US. An acclaimed scientist and engineer, he eschewed university, favouring on-the-job training.
Globally, the space economy is estimated to be worth US$314b annually. Beck says the commercialisation of space offers tangible and intangible benefits for the economy.
“Any country that has a space programme is automatically elevated in status over other countries,” he says.
“It’s a very elite kind of club to be part of and I think New Zealand is now being recognised as not only participating in space but being somewhat of an entrepreneur and a leader.”
The New Zealand Space Agency was established in 2016 as the lead agency for space policy and legislation.
“They’ve kind of been spawned from our activities,” Beck says.
Beck, whose accolades include Innovator of the Year at the 2015 New Zealander of the Year Awards, has been described by Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce as: “… in the mold of other great Kiwi innovators like William Hamilton, Bill Gallagher and Ernest Rutherford.”
Original article by Jennifer Black, Acuity, November 2016.
Photo by Alistair Guthrie.