The 131-foot-long “reusable launch vehicle” will have a carbon composite body and is designed to be able to return to its launch site, Beck said during a video presentation that was streamed live Dec. 2.
By highlighting those two features, he hinted at capabilities not available from Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon rockets, which are made with stainless steel and have been landing on barges usually parked in the Atlantic Ocean.
“We did something extraordinary with our first rocket, Electron, and we’re doing something even more extraordinary with Neutron,” Beck said. “The team is flat-out right now at full force developing it.”
The rocket will have “a nice big, wide static base,” he said, and “a disposable upper stage” that’s “hung from the payload separation plane, which makes it incredibly strong, and it also makes it the lightest upper stage ever, in history.”
Beck also introduced Archimedes, Neutron’s thrust engine, which will be powered by liquid oxygen and methane. The rocket will have seven engines and will “breathe its first fire next year,” he said.
Neutron will be used for commercial and U.S. government constellation launches and will be capable of human space flight and cargo and crew resupply to the International Space Station, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission..
Rocket Lab, which employs about 600 workers, debuted on Nasdaq in August through a merger with Vector Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company backed by technology investor Vector Capital. It generated $34.8 million in revenue for the nine months that ended Sept. 30, representing a 79% year-over-year increase while its contract backlog totaled $183.1 million.