Rocket Lab’s Neutron Rocket Progress and Expanded Spacecraft Portfolio

Rocket Lab continues to advance steadily in the development of its Neutron vehicle, with the company revealing fourth-quarter results that showcased a contract backlog surpassing $1 billion.

During the quarter, the space company recorded a net loss of $50.5 million, equivalent to 10 cents per share. Compared to the previous year, Rocket Lab saw its fourth-quarter net loss expand by approximately 36%, reflecting the substantial investment directed towards the creation of its Neutron rocket. Similarly, its full-year loss widened by a comparable margin, totaling $182.6 million, or 38 cents per share.

Revenue for the fourth quarter experienced a 16% increase year over year, reaching $60 million, up from $51.8 million. Of this revenue, the launch business accounted for just $8.5 million, with the company navigating a multi-month hiatus in Electron missions, while its space systems constituted the majority, amounting to $51.5 million.

Neutron Rocket introduces other innovations
Rocket Lab introduces Lightning, Pioneer, and Explorer spacecraft for diverse mission capabilities.

Rocket Lab’s fourth-quarter revenue fell slightly short of Wall Street’s expectations of $62.9 million, as per analysts surveyed by LSEG, formerly referred to as Refinitiv. However, the reported net loss of 10 cents per share aligned with estimates.

The company’s backlog of orders witnessed more than a twofold increase year over year, largely propelled by a substantial $515 million satellite contract from the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck highlighted in a press release that 2023 marked “a record year for securing Electron” launch deals, with the company securing an additional 25 contracts. Launches constitute $248 million of Rocket Lab’s backlog, with the remaining portion reflecting its burgeoning space systems business.

In after-hours trading, shares of Rocket Lab declined by 5% from its close at $4.71. For the first quarter, Rocket Lab anticipates revenue to fall within the range of $92 million to $98 million.

Progress Update on Neutron and Enhanced Spacecraft Portfolio

Rocket Lab provided a comprehensive update on the advancements made in the development of its next-generation Neutron rocket, aimed at competing with industry giants like SpaceX. Since revealing its Neutron plans in 2021, Rocket Lab has been heavily investing to introduce the vehicle within the next year or so.

Rocket Lab
The company’s Q4 report reveals significant backlog growth and forecasted revenue for the upcoming quarter.

The company’s fourth-quarter investor presentation outlined several key milestones achieved thus far with Neutron, including the commencement of production for rocket components for the inaugural launch, software simulations of launches, and the successful conclusion of initial testing for the Archimedes engines that will propel the rocket.

Furthermore, Rocket Lab outlined upcoming milestones for Neutron in the current year, such as continued testing of the Archimedes engines and structural assessments of the rocket’s nose cone.

In addition to its Neutron progress, Rocket Lab unveiled the expansion of its spacecraft product line. Building on the success of its Photon satellite bus, the company introduced three new spacecraft models named Lightning, Pioneer, and Explorer. These spacecraft cater to a range of customer missions, spanning from low Earth orbit communications satellites to scientific exploration of distant planetary bodies.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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