Peter Beck


Peter Beck
TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018 - day 1 (43784199694).jpg
Beck in 2018
Born1976/1977 (age 44–45)[1]
Invercargill, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
EmployerRocket Lab
Known forElectron Rocket

Peter Beck is a New Zealand engineer, and founder and CEO/CTO of aerospace manufacturer and smallsat launch service provider Rocket Lab.

Early life

Beck grew up in Invercargill. His father is a former museum and art gallery director and gemologist.[2] His mother is a teacher.[3]

His family loved machines.[2] He developed an interest in powerful engines as a teenager, and he spent time working on an old Mini and turbocharging it.[2]

As a child he wanted to build rockets when he grew up.[4] His high school careers counsellor requested a meeting with his parents because they were concerned that his dream job didn't fit any "pre-defined boxes" and was "absurdly unachievable".[4]


He describes the course of his career as "enabling me to learn more, or provide resources to ultimately build bigger and better rockets".[4]

Beck left home at 17 to become a toolmaking apprentice at Fisher & Paykel.[2][5] While working there he used the company workshop to experiment with rockets.[5] He never attended university.[1]

He later worked at Industrial Research (now Callaghan Innovation).[2][4] He worked on smart materials, composites and superconductors.[5] While working there he met Stephen Tindall, who later invested in Rocket Lab.[2]

Rocket Lab

Beck established Rocket Lab in 2006[2] and in November 2009 it became the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space, with its Ātea-1 sounding rocket. The company did not continue the sounding rocket launches, instead moving on to orbital launch business. The company developed the two-stage liquid-fueled Electron rocket, whose first flight was in May 2017. The maiden flight was unsuccessful. In January 2018 they reached orbit for the first time, deploying three CubeSats for customers (and one satellite of their own, the Humanity Star).[6] In December 2018 their fourth Electron launch carried a payload for NASA for the first time.[7] As of May 2021 they have successfully launched in total 17 similar missions out of 20 attempts.


  • Beck has been awarded the Meritorious Medal from the Royal Aeronautical Society for service of an exceptional nature to New Zealand aviation.[8]
  • He was also awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand's Cooper Medal.[8]
  • In 2014 he won the Innovation in Design and Engineering Award at the NZ Innovators Awards,.[3]
  • In 2016 he was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year.[9]
  • Beck was named an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering by the University of Auckland in 2019, though he never attended university himself.[10]

Personal life

Beck is married to an engineer,[5] and has two children.[2]


  1. ^ a b "10 things about Rocket Lab". National Business Review. 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Bradley, Grant (2016-10-13). "Peter Beck: The man with the one million-horsepower rocket". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  3. ^ a b "Innovation Heroes: Peter Beck". Idealog. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  4. ^ a b c d "National Portrait: Peter Beck - NZ space pioneer once mocked for his vision". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rocket Lab's Peter Beck and Mark Rocket talk to Metro Magazine about their space plans - Metro". Metro Magazine. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  6. ^ Ryan, Holly (21 January 2018). "Blast off! Rocket Lab successfully reaches orbit". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Rocket Lab prepares to launch historic CubeSat mission for NASA". Rocket Lab. Retrieved 2021-05-28.
  8. ^ a b "Peter Beck: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  9. ^ "Rocket Lab's Peter Beck name EY Entrepreneur of the Year". NZ Herald. 2016-10-13. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  10. ^ "Meet NZ's newest professor - rocket man Peter Beck". NZ Herald. 2016-09-03. Retrieved 2019-09-06.

External links