Peter is the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. He has been recognised as a pioneer in New Zealand’s space community, including his instrumental role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.
Peter founded Rocket Lab in 2006 following a decade and a half of propulsion research and market development in the international space community. Peter has since established Rocket Lab in both New Zealand and the United States as a premier institute for innovative space systems. Peter is the head visionary and chief engineer behind Rocket Lab.
Growing up in Invercargill, Peter was always hands-on. He pulled apart and rebuilt an old Mini with a turbocharger. After high school, he started a toolmaking apprenticeship at Fisher & Paykel gaving him access to top of the line machinery and materials after hours. In 2001 he got a job in Auckland at Industrial Research (now Callaghan Innovation) and continued working on his passion – rockets.
In 2009, Peter led the development and launch of ATEA-1, with Rocket Lab becoming the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space. Peter initiated the Electron orbital launch programme in 2012 which developed the world’s first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powered by the world’s first 3D printed, electric turbopump-fed rocket engine. He also oversaw the development of the first and only private orbital launch on the globe, located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula
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.