Rocket Lab is hiring former America's Cup boat builders for its advanced composites work.

The rocket maker - on track for a second test launch - says it is employing some workers involved in the Team New Zealand campaign who met its criteria.

"We're employing so many people at the moment it's hard to keep up," said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck.

"I know last week in the Monday meeting I welcomed five new starters,"he said.


Rocket Lab's 17m-tall Electron Rocket is made of carbon fibre similar to that used in Team New Zealand's boat. Last week it was revealed that 40 workers involved in building the Cup winning catamaran last year had lost their jobs at Southern Spars.

The composites team at the Auckland-based rocket maker is led by Ben Malcolm who worked with Team New Zealand on its last boat for its campaign in San Francisco.

Including contractors and part-timers, there are about 25 in Rocket Lab's composites team, a third of who had worked with Team NZ.

Beck said top boat builders could transfer their skills to the space industry.

"It's really about craftsmanship. The America's Cup is very high end and has beautiful craftsmanship [but] not all boat builders would assimilate perfectly into building into space components" he said.

"You've got to be at the top of your game to work in the America's Cup and at the top of your game to work at Rocket Lab."

Around 170 people work for Rocket Lab at its Auckland base, Mahia launch site and its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles.

Beck said his company had constantly struggled to find enough highly skilled people.


"I don't need a PhD in transonic aerodynamics. What I actually need is aircraft technicians and more composite builders - those trades and skills are very hard to come by."

Rocket Lab has also set up its own apprenticeship scheme in composites and high-end machining, he said.

An America's Cup regatta would boost boat building in New Zealand, making the competition for workers even more intense.

"We offer a very competitive environment not just in terms in of salary but potential for stock options and also exposure to something that is fairly unique. There's not many places in the world were you can go and build a rocket to start with let alone something that you can be intensively be involved with."

The first test rocket made it to space in May but didn't make it into orbit. Beck said data from the launch had made clear what had gone wrong.

The company, and its investors were confident in the programme and have another five rockets in various stages of production.

Beck said the second test launch was about two or three months away and the company hoped to get to once a month launches under way as soon as possible.