Rocket Lab's maiden commercial launch on Sunday was a moment of pride for all New Zealanders, and pure Thunderbirds Are Go delight for geekier Kiwis as "It's Business Time" successfully launched a fleet of cube sats into low Earth orbit.

But heavyweight backers from Lockheed Martin to Sir Stephen Tindall - who have put US$148 million into the company - will now be looking for a return on their investment.

Founder Peter Beck doesn't shirk from that fact.

"We've not funded by any billionaires," the Aucklander says, in a nod to Space X's founder, the eccentric Elon Musk, whom Forbes