|Commercial orbital launch services|
|Founders||Tim Ellis (CEO)|
Jordan Noone (Executive Advisor)
|Products||Terran 1 rocket|
Number of employees
Relativity Space is a private American aerospace manufacturer company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 2015 by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone. Relativity is developing manufacturing technologies, launch vehicles and rocket engines for commercial orbital launch services.
Relativity Space was founded by CEO Tim Ellis and CTO Jordan Noone on the idea that existing new space companies were not tapping enough into the potential of additive manufacturing. Relativity is aiming to be the first company to successfully launch a fully 3D printed launch vehicle into orbit.
Relativity announced its Series C funding in October 2019, bringing its total funding amount to US$185.7 million. Relativity is privately funded by Bond, Tribe Capital, Playground Global, Social Capital, Y Combinator, and Mark Cuban. The company says it will launch its first rocket, named Terran 1, in the fall of 2021.
Relativity announced a new 120,000-square-foot Long Beach, CA headquarters and factory in February 2020. This new headquarters houses both business operations and Relativity's state-of-the-art autonomous factory. According to an interview with Ellis, the factory has no fixed tooling, which allows it to be rapidly reconfigured and autonomous.
In March 2018, Relativity Space signed a 20-year lease at the John C. Stennis Space Center, a NASA rocket testing facility, to test engine components and eventually test full-scale Aeon 1 rocket engines. And in June 2019, Relativity expanded their work with John C. Stennis Space Center to include exclusive use of 220,000 square feet within Building 9101. Relativity plans to create 200 jobs and invest $59M in Mississippi over the course of this nine-year lease, which carries an option to extend for another 10 years.
In January 2019, Relativity announced that it won a competitive bidding process with the United States Air Force to build and operate Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) at Cape Canaveral. LC-16 has historical significance and was previously used by the US military to launch Titan and Pershing ballistic missiles.
In June of 2020, Relativity announced it plans to develop a second launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base to allow for missions to polar orbits and sun-synchronous orbits, including the launches carrying Iridium satellites, between 2023 and 2030.
In June 2020, Relativity announced that they signed a new launch contract with Iridium. This contract included up to six dedicated launches to deploy ground spare satellites to LEO for Iridium NEXT’s constellation on Relativity’s Terran 1 vehicle. According to Suzi McBride, Iridium's COO, the satellite communication provider chose to partner with Relativity because of their flexible launch capability and the company's ability to launch one satellite at a time. According to the deal these launches will not begin earlier than 2023.
In September 2019, Relativity and Momentus announced their launch service agreement at the 2019 World Satellite Business Week in Paris. The agreement stated that Relativity's Terran 1 launch vehicles will carry Momentus’ Vigoride "tug" service vehicles into orbit. The contract is for a half-dozen missions.
In May 2019, Relativity signed a contract with Spaceflight Industries, a satellite rideshare and mission management provider, to launch Spaceflight’s dedicated smallsat rideshares. The terms of this deal were not disclosed, however, it was shared that the contract included one launch of Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket in the third quarter of 2021, with an option for an unspecified number of additional launches.
Relativity publicly announced their contract with mu Space in April late 2019. It is expected that Relativity will launch a mu Space satellite to low Earth orbit in the second half of 2022, aboard Relativity's Terran 1 rocket.
On April 5, 2019, Relativity announced its first signed contract. This contract was with Telesat, the Canadian telecom satellite operator. The terms of this contract were not specified, but it did include "multiple" launches of Terran 1.
Lockheed Martin announced on October 16, 2020 that it will launch a cryogenic liquid hydrogen management demonstration mission on Terran 1. Lockheed Martin also specified that the launch will make use of Momentus' Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle to house the cryogenic payload. This announcement came two days after NASA announced the recipients of its Tipping Point awards.
In order to 3D print large components, Relativity has created a system named Stargate, which it claims is the world's largest 3D printer of metals. The system is based on selective laser sintering, which uses laser beams to bond powdered metal, layer by layer, into precise and complex structures that have minimal parts. The company aims at 3D-printing at least 95% of their launcher, including the engines, by the end of 2020. The company plans to eventually 3D-print a complete launch vehicle within 60 days.
The Aeon 1 rocket engine first stage is designed to create 15,500 pounds of thrust (68975 newtons of force) at sea level and 25,400 pounds of thrust (86775 newtons) in a vacuum. The engine is powered by liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen (LOX). It is made out of a proprietary 3D-printed alloy. It is 3D-printed and assembled from fewer than 1000 parts. Relativity has completed more than 300 test firings of the Aeon 1 engine, using the E-3 facility at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The Terran 1 is an expendable launch vehicle under development that will consist of two stages. The first stage will use 9 Aeon 1 engines, while the second stage will use a single Aeon 1 engine. The maximum payload will be 1,250 kilograms (2,760 lb) to 185 km low Earth orbit, normal payload 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) to 500 km SSO sun-synchronous orbit, high-altitude payload 700 kilograms (1,500 lb) to 1200 km SSO. The rocket will not use helium for pressure but will use autogenous pressurization. Relativity's advertised launch price of US$12 million per Terran 1 mission.