The founder and CEO of Rocket Lab tells Simon Pound how a rocket-obsessed kid from Invercargill grew up to live his childhood dream, and how New Zealand became a member of the space club.
Once something is done it becomes expected, even if it was pretty unlikely to begin with. Ten years ago, if you said New Zealand would soon be one of the handful of countries in the space club, regularly sending satellites to space and famous for its space industry, you’d probably have been laughed out of the room. But that’s exactly what has happened, and it’s quite amazing.
The biggest force behind this change is Peter Beck at Rocket Lab. His dream was so unexpected and unlikely that when he told his high school guidance counsellor he wanted to make rockets they called his parents in for a meeting. But he persevered, working at Fisher & Paykel and Callaghan Innovation’s forerunner, Industrial Research, where he was supported with parts and after-hours lab access to experiment and refine his rockets.
To get Rocket Lab off the ground he’s had to pull together some of the world’s biggest investors, have international laws changed and successfully pioneer innovations in making and sending rockets that are now industry standards. It was wildly unlikely at almost every step, but today Rocket Lab is on the verge of a massive listing on the US stock exchange, and a big shift to larger rockets.
To talk about the journey, the importance of perseverance and New Zealand becoming a member of the space club, Simon Pound met Peter Beck at the Rocket Lab’s Mount Wellington HQ.
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