Posted by Les Divers on Nov 11, 2019

Rocket Lab Production Director Jamie France attracted such numbers to our meeting on Monday evening that space became a challenge.  More than 100 people crammed into the Banquet Room at Waipuna to hear an enthralling account from Jamie of the launch and rise of Rocket Lab.

Jamie had a design engineer background with Team New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel and Air New Zealand.  From just 12 people when Jamie joined Rocket Lab in 2014, Rocket Lab now employs over 500 people.  300 of those work in the Rocket Lab facility just a stones’ throw from Waipuna, building 17-metre-tall Electron Rockets at the rate of 1 per week.  The rockets are then transported to Mahia and the world’s only private launch site.  The firm has a 100% mission success rate with customer product, putting in low earth orbit satellites for a variety of customers, most of whom are American.  The company is presently building a second launch site in Virginia to solidify its American customer base.  The next stage is to complete an end to end delivery system with its own network tracking stations.  The company builds everything – all hardware, software, avionics and electronics. 

Rocket Lab has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital and is profitable.  All arising from a dream of a tool and die maker from Invercargill by the name of Peter Beck who decided to reach for the sky.  Jamie revealed that the company has a head start on dozens of other competitors including companies funded by people such as Richard Branson.  Branson’s company Virgin Galactic employs 900 people and is yet to get off the ground delivering satellites.

Truly inspirational, Jamie’s address was enjoyed by our fellow Rotarians from Auckland East, numerous spouses, children, grand-children and students from local schools.  It made for a memorable evening at the centre of which was a St Kent’s old boy thrust into a senior position in an exciting company which is going places very quickly.