Neutron, Rocket Lab’s New Medium Lift Rocket

Space Coast, FL – Rocket Lab’s CEO, CTO & Founder, Peter Beck, revealed plans for their next rocket, Neutron. An advanced 8-ton payload class launch vehicle created for mega-constellation deployment, interplanetary missions and human spaceflight.

Electron has provided dedicated access to orbit for small satellites of up to 300 kg (660 lb). The new rocket, Neutron will transform space access for satellite constellations and provide a dependable, high-flight-rate dedicated launch solution. This will be primarily for larger commercial and government payloads.

Med-Heavy Rocket Neutron by Rocket Lab
Neutron rocket and details | Image: RocketLab USA

The advanced new rocket, Neutron, will transform space access by delivering reliable and cost-effective launch services for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions and human spaceflight 

“Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron. Now we’re unlocking a new category with Neutron, We’ve listened to our customers and the message is clear – biggest doesn’t always mean best when it comes to constellation deployment. Efficiently building the mega constellations of the future requires launching multiple satellites in batches to different orbital planes. It’s a requirement that all too often sees large launch vehicles fly with payloads well below their full lift capacity, which is an incredibly expensive and inefficient way to build out a satellite constellation.  Neutron’s 8-ton lift capacity will make it ideally sized to deploy satellites in batches to specific orbital planes, creating a more targeted and streamlined approach to building out mega constellations.”  

– Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO

Neutron will also provide a dedicated service to orbit for larger civil, defense and commercial payloads. This will be for ones that need a level of schedule control and high-flight cadence not available on large and heavy lift rockets. Neutron will be capable of lifting 98% of all satellites forecast to launch through 2029. It will also be able to introduce highly disruptive lower costs by leveraging Electron’s heritage, launch sites and architecture.

Neutron Specs

The rocket will be a two-stage launch vehicle that stands 40 meters (131 feet) tall with a 4.5-meter (14.7 ft) diameter fairing. It will have a lift capacity of up to 8,000 kg (8 metric tons) to low-Earth orbit, 2,000 kg to the Moon (2 metric tons), and 1,500 kg to Mars and Venus (1.5 metric tons). Neutron will feature a reusable first stage designed to land on an ocean platform. This will enable a high launch cadence and decreased launch costs for customers. Initially designed for satellite payloads, Neutron will also be capable of International Space Station (ISS) resupply and human spaceflight missions.

Neutron fairing half from Rocket Lab
Fairing half for the new Neutron rocket | Image: Rocket Lab USA

You will be able to catch a Neutron rocket launch at Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. By using the existing launch pad and integration infrastructure currently there, Rocket Lab eliminates the need to build a new pad. This accelerates the timeline to first launch, expected in 2024.

Rocket Lab is assessing locations across America to establish a new state-of-the-art factory to support large-scale Neutron manufacturing. So keep an eye out, as this will be adding hundreds of jobs to the Rocket Lab team.

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