Mystery of Space Inspired New Zealand Rocket Man’s Journey to Nasdaq

New Zealand entrepreneur Peter Beck, pictured, said his space firm, Rocket Lab, is the result of a lifelong quest for signs of life beyond Earth, as the startup hit a new milestone with a Nasdaq listing in late August 2021.

The satellite launch firm, often compared to Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX, listed on the Nasdaq Composite with a market capitalization of about U.S. $4.4 billion.

Rocket Lab agreed in March 2021 to go public through a merger with a firm backed by private equity firm Vector Capital, the latest in a series of space firm listings involving special purpose acquisition companies.  

“For me personally, the biggest question that I can possibly answer in my lifetime, and the biggest question for everybody on Earth really, comes down to are we the only life in the universe or not,” Beck said.

Growing up in Invercargill, a city near the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, he got interested in space when his father pointed to the stars and said there could be someone watching him from there. “That was the most mind-blowing moment in my young life. So I promised myself that if I ever had the chance to answer the question, which is fundamentally important to the way we think, I would have a crack. I am pleased to have this opportunity. We have spacecraft, launch pads and the team to do it.”

Rocket Lab was selected in 2021 to develop a spacecraft for a NASA mission to Mars. The company is also leading a private mission to Venus in 2023, working with a science team that discovered a gas called phosphine in the clouds of Venus in 2020.

“It’s a life-finding mission, it’s a high-risk mission and the very first private mission to another planet,” Beck said.

Rocket Lab, whose backers have included defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp., has launched over 100 satellites into space since 2006.  Reuters

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