Peter Beck

BLAKE Leader 2018

Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab.

Peter Beck is leading the small satellite launch revolution.

He is the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, an orbital launch company revolutionising access to space for small satellites. Peter has grown Rocket Lab to become a globally recognised industry leader in space and a billion-dollar company employing hundreds of world-class engineers and technicians.

Peter is a hands-on engineer who has dreamt of space flight all his life. He operates in a complex environment but he has shown a rare combination of talents which have assured his astounding success.

He can formulate and articulate a vision, raise the vast sums of money to execute it and lead his loyal team bring it to life. His achievements are phenomenal.

Peter led a team of engineers to develop the ĀTEA-1 rocket in 2009; a launch that saw Rocket Lab become the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space.

In 2013, Peter established the Electron orbital launch program to develop the world’s first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powered by the world’s first 3D printed, electric turbopump-fed rocket engine. With its first successful orbital launch completed in January 2018, and many more to follow, Rocket Lab is driving the small satellite launch revolution.

Peter combines an entrepreneurial spirit with audacious dreams and effective, inspiring leadership. Rocket Lab is now established in both New Zealand and the United States as a premier institute for innovative space systems.

Peter is an acclaimed scientist and engineer, having been awarded a Meritorious Medal from the Royal Aeronautical Society for service of an exceptional nature, and the Cooper Medal, presented by the Royal Society (NZ) bi-annually to those deemed to have published the best single account of research in physics and engineering. In 2015, Peter was awarded New Zealander of the Year (innovation) and in 2016 was recognized as New Zealand EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Peter played an instrumental role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand. He also oversaw the development of the first and only private orbital launch range on the globe, located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. His life’s work has contributed to New Zealand’s reputation as a hub for innovation.

Alongside his scientific credentials and fearless entrepreneurial spirit, Peter is noted for his humility, generosity and selflessness. His commitment to humanity, and improving life on Earth, is uncommon in a space launch industry increasingly focused on looking to explore other planets, rather than improving our own.

Peter has identified an opportunity for a new space launch model that makes it easier to put spacecraft on orbit and help solve some of the planet’s greatest crises.

In addition to his commercial endeavours, Peter also orchestrated the courageous launch of his creation, the Humanity Star. This was a highly reflective satellite that blinked brightly across the night sky to create a shared experience for everyone on the planet, designed to be a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe.

But that is just the beginning. Long-term, Peter’s launch model will make it easier to put thousands of small satellites on orbit that will feed critical data back to Earth to help us better monitor our planet, and improve life on it. This includes monitoring of deforestation, providing internet access to every corner of the globe, better weather prediction and real time data on our ever-changing Earth. These are the goals of a humble Kiwi kid who always wanted to achieve something “impossible”.

Peter leads his team with an infectious spirit, a high EQ and an ability to draw out the best in everyone he works with. He is a leader with the ability to get everyone working towards a common goal; no small feat with a team of around 250 brilliant minds.

Peter has limited spare time but uses it to give back to the engineering, scientific and business communities. He supports students at the University of Canterbury, is involved with the not-for-profit Squawk Squad, delivers speeches and mentors aspiring entrepreneurs. He willingly uses his networks to introduce other up-and-coming New Zealand entrepreneurs.