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Rocket Lab launch start-up to go public in SPAC deal with Vector

A Rocket Lab rocket lifts off from New Zealand in 2018
A Rocket Lab rocket lifts off from New Zealand in 2018.
(Rocket Lab / Associated Press)

Space-launch company Rocket Lab USA Inc. agreed to merge with Vector Acquisition Corp., becoming the latest start-up to go public through a so-called blank-check company.

The combination values Rocket Lab at $4.1 billion including debt, the launch company said in a statement Monday. The combined company will have about $750 million in cash, it said.

The funding will help Rocket Lab develop a launch vehicle that can deploy satellite mega-constellations, go to deep space and serve human space missions. The Long Beach company has specialized in delivering small satellites to low-Earth orbit and in November recovered a rocket used to launch satellites, replicating an approach used by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX.

The Vector Acquisition deal follows a string of transactions involving special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, that raise money through initial public offerings and then hunt for businesses to acquire. More than 200 blank-check companies raised over $80 billion last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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Vector Acquisition, backed by private-equity firm Vector Capital, raised $300 million in a September IPO.

Rocket Lab has launched 97 satellites and serves commercial customers as well as U.S. intelligence and defense agencies. It plans to launch a satellite to lunar orbit this year for NASA as part of the Gateway effort to return humans to the moon.

The deal with Vector is expected to close in the second quarter, with the new Rocket Lab USA trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol RKLB. Rocket Lab projects reporting positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2023, positive cash flow in the next year and $1 billion in revenue in 2026.

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Vector Acquisition shares leaped 39.9% on Monday to $15.16.

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