Advanced Television

Bank: Rocket Lab value boosted by Virgin Orbit assets

June 1, 2023

California-based Rocket Lab made headlines a week ago when it bought some key assets from bankrupt Virgin Orbit. Rocket Lab has been awarded Virgin’s 144,000-square-foot Long Beach, California–based manufacturing facility for $16.1 million. That news, plus a fresh launch contract, has given the business a significant lift in its implied value.

Analysts from investment bank Jefferies says that the Virgin Orbit assets have helped propel Rocket Lab’s value by around $100 million, made up of $80 million in Virgin equipment and $20 million in value from the Long Beach factory.

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, said that his company’s purchase of the Virgin Orbit assets as “representing a capital expenditure saving [which will] augment our production capability and bring [our] Neutron rocket to the launch pad quickly.”

The new contract comes from Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) on behalf of Telesat of Canada and covers the launch of a satellite for Telesat. The craft (named LEO 3) will be a further test satellite as a precursor to Telesat’s planned Lightspeed low Earth orbiting mega-constellation.

The LEO 3 demonstration satellite will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. Once deployed to orbit, LEO 3 will operate under an existing ITU network filing for Telesat Lightspeed, the company’s enterprise-class LEO constellation.

The Electron mission that will carry the LEO 3 satellite is scheduled for lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand no earlier than Q3 2023. To meet Telesat’s programme requirements, SFL has selected Rocket Lab to deliver the satellite to space on an accelerated timeline within four months of contract signing.

Rocket Lab’s Senior Director of Global Launch Services, Brian Rogers said: “As the only US small rocket to successfully deliver satellites to orbit this year, Electron remains the undisputed small launch leader for reliable and regular satellite delivery to orbit. Whether it’s a dedicated or rideshare mission, our customers know they can rely on Electron to get their satellites delivered.”

“Electron was selected to launch LEO 3 given Rocket Lab’s ability to meet the mission’s special orbital requirements and the desire for rapid turnaround,” said Dr. Robert Zee, Director, SFL. “As a complete mission provider, we are pleased to have been able to identify and secure this launch to meet Telesat’s commercial needs.”

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. It delivers reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment.

Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched US rocket annually and has delivered 163 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organisations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a third launch pad in Virginia.

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