Rocket Lab says reusable Neutron will 'compete directly with Falcon 9'

The company will charge $50 million per launch of its next-gen rocket, bringing it in line with SpaceX.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of Neutron.
An artist's impression of Neutron.

Rocket Lab 

Rocket Lab is developing a larger, reusable rocket called Neutron to help it compete with SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch capabilities.

The company, which has launched 159 satellites to date with its Electron launch system, is targeting a price point of roughly $50 million per launch, meaning it will cost marginally less than a Falcon 9 launch.

Rocket Lab's Neutron will "compete directly with the Falcon 9"

Rocket Lab first announced Neutron when it went public in 2021. The company stated at the time that the rocket will be operational by around 2024.

"We are positioning Neutron to compete directly with the Falcon 9," Rocket Lab Chief Financial Officer Adam Spice said earlier this week, speaking at a Bank of America event in London on Tuesday, as per a CNBC report.

Spice added that Neutron is still on track for its first launch next year. During its fourth-quarter report last month, the company also said it had begun producing the first tank structures for Neutron.

The private space firm also aims to perform the first "hot fire test" of the Archimedes engine, which will power Neutron, "by the end of the year," according to Spice.

Neutron will be reusable up to 20 times

SpaceX charges $67 million per Falcon 9 launch, and Spice said Rocket Lab aims to match this on a cost-per-kilogram basis.

In other words, Neutron, which will have a slightly lower payload capacity of 28,660 lbs (13,000 kg) to low Earth orbit, will target a "$50 million to $55 million launch service cost".

Spice added that each reusable Neutron booster will be flown between "10 to 20 times", which is roughly the lifespan of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

Rocket Lab is on track to launch 15 missions this year, according to Spice. The company is also looking to be the first private space firm to send a spacecraft to another planet later this year when it sends a self-funded mission to search for alien life in the clouds of Venus.

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