How Rocket Lab questions the basics of building both rockets and launch companies - TechCrunch
Head of Rocket Lab Peter Beck has had an exciting year or two, despite the incredible challenges that COVID-19 threw in the path of LA rocket maker and New Zealand-based operations. Just this year, Rocket Lab held their first public show, unveiled its plans for a new mid-range launch vehicle called Neutron and acquired two companies (in addition to the first purchase from 2022).
I spoke to Beck at our TC Sessions: Space 2022 event where we covered what's new and special about Neutron, and how it reduces the company's Electron rocket lineup to challenge some assumptions about how build larger rockets. We’ll also delve into his vision for Rocket Lab and what it aims to accomplish in terms of making it even easier for potential customers to get their stuff into space.
Beck identified everything from the unique way Rocket Lab plans to bring the first phase of reused Neutron back to Earth, to the “Hungry Hippo” design of the fairy that allows it to be avoiding overuse. He also outlined his vision for what Rocket Lab hopes to achieve through building out more service offerings, both through acquisition and through in - house product development.
Take a look at these sections, and then watch the full interview below.
On condemning landing legs and improving aerodynamics:
It's about removing as many components as you can [ … ] We had this epiphany one day, where we were like, we are working on those lying legs, and we are just going around in non - stop circles with machinery, and how do we serve it those tools, and everything else of it. . And then we were like that, let's stop, and let's just not lie on our feet. So let’s have a sufficiently broad base, so that we can withstand any kind of movement or creep.
So let's start with this large, wide base and draw a satellite in the payload and top of the platform and the balanced diamond, and then just draw two lines that connected it completely , and was like a traffic cone. That's really the best vehicle: It has no legs, it's just a stable form of structure. And then as we started doing some of the CFD [computational fluid dynamics] on, and some of the aerodynamics and some of the reentry work, and that traffic cone was very useful, since you have this reduced weight over the entire length of the vehicle, which means no shock beats are attached to it , which is always a challenge with reentry.
On how to build a space company that truly meets the needs of today's customers: