ACC joins Rocket Lab's multimillion dollar investment round

The Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand (ACC) is now an investor in Rocket Lab, the US rocket technology company founded in New Zealand.

"Rocket Lab's success is a global effort, but our story started in New Zealand, so we're thrilled to have ACC on board as an investor," said Rocket Lab's Invercargill-born chief executive officer and founder, Peter Beck.

"In addition to the 200-plus highly skilled roles Rocket Lab has created in New Zealand, the investment from ACC enables us to help more Kiwis share in the company's success."

Rocket Lab announced it has secured US$140 million (NZ$206 million) in funding, to fund expansion and research projects. ACC joins several other existing investors, including Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Promus Ventures and K1W1.

The latest 'Series E' funding round comes after the company raised US$75 million in a 'Series D' round in March 2017. The company has now raised more than US$288 million to date, soaring past its previous US$1 billion-plus valuation.

"It has been a big year for Rocket Lab with two successful missions to orbit and another about to roll out to the pad, but it's even more significant for the global small satellite industry that now has a fully commercial, dedicated ride to space," said Mr Beck.

"This funding also enables the continued aggressive scale-up of Electron production to support our targeted weekly flight rate. It will also see us build additional launch pads and begin work on three major new R&D programs."

It comes less than a week after the Sunday (November 10) launch of Rocket Lab's "It's Business Time" mission, the first commercial flight of the company's Electron rocket after two test flights. The mission took off from Mahia Peninsula.

It was the first of the company's commercial rockets to take off. The launch came after its motor controller was plagued with issues, postponing its previous launch window of July. The launch began slowly, but the rocket became lighter and faster as it ascended.

The rocket is home to six satellites, which will help send data back to earth about deforestation, weather predictions and crops.

Construction has now begun on Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, which is based within the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA. It will be designed specifically to serve the responsive space needs of government customers.

There's no slowing Rocket Lab down, with Mr Beck aiming at launching a rocket a month by the end of the year, and even one a week by 2020.