Electron rockets are prepared for launch.
rocket lab said Tuesday it had doubled its order backlog — from about $241 million in contracts at the end of 2021 to $503.6 million by the end of 2022 — and made progress on the Neutron rocket it is developing.
“We’re generally very, very happy with 2022, and what’s important to me is that we did what we promised,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck told CNBC.
“We’re proud of the execution and will build on this year’s execution,” added Beck.
The aerospace company also reported fourth-quarter revenue of $51.8 million, up 88% year over year, with an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $14.5 million — up 75% from the fourth quarter of the year previous year. At the end of the quarter, the company had $484.3 million in cash on hand.
Rocket Lab had two successful launches of its Electron vehicle during the quarter, generating $12 million in revenue. The broader Space Systems division continues to generate the majority of its revenue, generating $38.8 million.
The company also announced the completion of the first production building for its forthcoming neutron rocket, which will be built at NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia. Rocket Lab began production of the first neutron tank structures as well as construction of the launch pad for the rocket. As for the next big development milestone, Beck told CNBC that it will be when “complete tanks come out of his factory.”
“For a composite launch vehicle, when the actual parts come out of the molds, that’s a much stronger indicator of progress than anything else,” Beck said. “Getting to the point where we’re actually making these parts is a huge milestone in itself, I think, but a bigger milestone is when a tank actually rolls out the door.”
Alongside its findings, Rocket Lab announced a contract for four electron launches from satellite company Capella Space. These missions are scheduled to begin in the second half of the year.
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Rocket Lab shares are up 19% so far this year, trading at $4.50 on Tuesday.
The company successfully launched its first mission from the United States last month. The goal is to complete up to 14 more Elektron launches this year. For Q1 2023, Rocket Lab expects startup revenue to be approximately $18 million and Space Systems revenue to be between $32 million and $35 million.
Beck noted that Rocket Lab’s path to profitability will be impacted by its “really big investment” in Neutron.
“I don’t think we’re very far from our model in this regard, but it will ultimately be heavily impacted by the rate of spending and the success of the Neutron program,” Beck said.
The company also announced that David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners will step down from the Rocket Lab board of directors in the first quarter after nine years of advising the company.
The company’s electron rocket lifts off from LC-2 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on January 24, 2023.
Brady Kenniston / Rocket Lab