Rocket Lab Reaches Deal to Merge With Vector SPAC

By Cara Lombardo

Photo: Rocket Lab/Associated Press

Space-transportation startup Rocket Lab USA Inc. reached a deal to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, as a wave of such deals rolls on.

Rocket Lab struck a deal with Vector Acquisition Corp. that would value the U.S.-New Zealand startup at around $4.1 billion including debt, the company said Monday. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday such a deal was imminent.

Vector Acquisition, backed by technology-focused private-equity firm Vector Capital , raised $300 million in a September initial public offering. It is one of hundreds of SPACs, which go public without a business and then look for one or more to combine with, to raise money in recent months, as a blank-check wave has taken hold on Wall Street and Silicon Valley alike.

Rocket Lab, whose backers have included defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp., is seen as a front-runner among a new breed of so-called small-launch providers. The startup has already launched 97 satellites for the government and for private companies for applications including research and communications. While a handful of established companies including Elon Musk’s SpaceX focus on sending huge satellites into higher orbits, there are more than 100 new small-rocket ventures around the world that aim to serve lighter satellites. In addition to Rocket Lab, British entrepreneur Richard Branson‘s Virgin Orbit LLC is an increasingly large player in the field.

Another one of Mr. Branson’s entities, space-tourism company Virgin Galactic , went public through a SPAC merger in 2019—putting it at the forefront of the blank-check deal frenzy.