It was a busy first half for the US-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, which released results for the first half of 2021 on Wednesday – the first such reporting since the company went public last month.
Rocket Lab reported sales of $ 29.5 million for the six month period. Backlog also increased to $ 141.4 million as of June 30, up 136% from $ 59.9 million year over year.
While the general trend appears positive, executives stressed the ongoing impact of COVID-19 restrictions in New Zealand, the location of one of the company’s key launch facilities. CFO Adam Spice said the third quarter had already been hit by the pandemic after New Zealand introduced strict lockdown restrictions in response to an 855-strong Delta variant outbreak. These restrictions resulted in “no further launch activity planned” for the quarter, Spice said, and will likely result in a $ 10-15 million impact on revenue for the year.
Despite these setbacks, executives expected annual sales of $ 50 million to $ 54 million. GAAP operating expenses were $ 29.3 million for the six month period, compared to $ 11.9 million for the first half of last year. Most of that increase was due to R&D spending, including the development of an automated flight abortion system and the neutron launcher, Spice added.
Rocket Lab, which started out as a launcher, has branched out a lot since its inception in 2006. Today the company is developing as an end-to-end space company providing launch services, as well as the design, manufacture and operation of spacecraft.
In this latter business area, Rocket Lab has grown aggressively over the past 18 months; Some of the most recent milestones include an agreement to develop three photon spacecraft from Rocket Lab for space company Varda Space Industries and plans to send two photons to Mars on an upcoming space mission. The growth of the space systems division reflects these developments; In the six months, space systems accounted for $ 5.4 million in revenue, compared to just $ 300,000 in the year-ago quarter.
Rocket Lab also said it will begin large-scale manufacturing of satellite components by the end of this year, starting with reaction wheels, a critical attitude and stability control system. Rocket Lab will open a new facility that will be able to produce up to 2,000 reaction wheels annually, a massive increase in volume compared to what the aerospace industry has ever had.
“Satellite components were typically manufactured in small numbers, which has really limited the speed and scope of constellation development,” CEO Peter Beck said during a call to investors on Wednesday. “The [reaction wheel production] Line was built to solve this and enable large-scale production to meet the growing demands of customers across the industry. “
Rocket Lab’s space systems division received a huge boost from its acquisition of major satellite hardware maker Sinclair Interplanetary last year, and it will likely not be the company’s last purchase. Rocket Lab has around half a dozen deals that it is actively investigating, Spice told investors on Wednesday. “The acquisition of Sinclair really encouraged us to lean forward and look for opportunities.”
“The interesting thing about this market right now is that it feels really ripe for consolidation,” he said. “Not consolidation in the sense of large companies growing together, but fact [that] Space investability is a relatively new phenomenon, ”he said.
The company’s executives remained largely silent on the neutron missile, with Beck only saying that it is “developing very well” and that the company will present a more detailed development in the coming months.
“Neutron is a vehicle that is not an increment of Electron,” he said. “It’s something that really sets a new standard in the space industry.”
Rocket Lab also announced today that it has signed a multi-launch contract with Kinéis, a French connectivity provider for Internet of Things devices, to distribute its satellite constellation across five Electron missions. Kinéis’ investors include the French space agency Center National d’Études Spatiales and the French space company Collecte Localization Satellites.
The constellation will consist of a total of 25 satellites, which will join the more than 100 satellites that Rocket Lab has launched with its electron rocket so far. The market launches are planned for the second quarter of 2023.
Five electron launches, 25 satellites, 1 entire constellation: we have signed a contract with @KineisIoT to bring their Internet of Things constellation into space on Electron. pic.twitter.com/8UtjGQS0gm
– Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) September 8, 2021
This is just the latest multi-launch deal Rocket Lab has closed in the past few months, including a five-launch deal with satellite analytics company BlackSky.
Rocket Lab continued to rise, closing at $ 15.09 on Wednesday. This corresponds to an increase of almost 50% since the company’s IPO at the end of August.