Electron launch
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket lifts off July 29 on its return-to-flight mission. Rocket Lab will perform three Electron launches from late August through September, each carrying two BlackSky satellites. Credit: Rocket Lab

SANTA FE, N.M. — Shareholders of a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) voted Aug. 20 to merge with Rocket Lab, giving the small launch vehicle and spacecraft developer an infusion of cash.

Vector Acquisition Corporation announced that its shareholders approved a series of motions at its annual general meeting to merge the SPAC with Rocket Lab. The approval means that the merger of Vector with Rocket Lab will close Aug. 25, at which point Rocket Lab will become a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol RKLB.

Less than 3% of shareholders elected to redeem their shares, resulting in a payout of nearly $9.7 million. Rocket Lab will receive approximately $777 million, before transaction expenses, from the SPAC and a current private investment in public equity (PIPE) round.

“This significant milestone accelerates our ability to unlock the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a statement. “With the support of public shareholders, I’m excited to build on our established track record of mission success as we continue to transform the way we use and access space.”

Rocket Lab announced the proposed merger with Vector March 1, at the same time as announcing its intent to develop a medium-class launch vehicle called Neutron. The funding from the deal is intended to help support development of Neutron.

The funding will also support the company’s operations of its Electron rocket and Photon satellite bus. The company reported a net loss of $55 million in 2020, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a net loss of $15.9 million in the first quarter of 2021.

In an investor presentation released in March, Rocket Lab projected sharply increasing revenues from its launch and spacecraft businesses, with the company achieving positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2023 and positive unlevered free cash flow, which takes into account capital expenses, in 2024.

Rocket Lab will become the third space company to close a SPAC deal this month. In-space transportation company Momentus completed its SPAC merger and started trading on the Nasdaq Aug. 13, while cubesat constellation operator Spire completed its merger and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange Aug. 17. Both companies have seen their share prices fall somewhat in the days after the mergers closed.

Two other space companies, space components and manufacturing company Redwire and geospatial intelligence company BlackSky, have shareholder votes for their SPAC mergers scheduled for early September.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...