Relativity Space, an American startup from Los Angeles, has secured $35 million dollars to produce 3D printed rockets for space exploration. The company prints orbital rockets composed of 95% 3D printed materials. In this post, we take a look at the next phase of this exciting technology.
Relativity: plans for the $35 million
Relativity Space is planning to use the $35 million donated through venture-capital funding to rebuild one of the biggest 3D printers currently in existence. The company currently prints its orbital rocket parts using its ‘Stargate’ printer. With the cash, the business hopes to redesign and rebuild the printer so that it is more efficient. They also plan to hire 28 more employees to help with new rocket builds.
The business has raised over $45 million in venture capital since it began designing and developing its rockets in 2015. The business’ current round of funding was led by Playground Global. A test flight for the 3D printed rocket is planned for 2020, with the company’s orbital rockets are set to come to the market in 2021.
The roots of the business
The company was started by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, who both had previous expertise and practical experience in the field. The duo can print and launch rockets, composed of only 1,000 parts, with a lead time of 60 days.
The company set out to print as many parts using 3D printing as possible. With 95% of their orbital rockets currently being composed of printed parts, they have done incredibly well in achieving their goal.
What’s next for the company?
In an interview with the founders of the company, Ellis and Noone informed CNBC what their goals are for the future of the business
“Relativity has completed 100 test firings of the Aeon 1 engine, using the E-3 facility at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. While Relativity had paid about $1 million to use the test stand, the company won an "Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity" contract, which gives Relativity $1.5 million from NASA to keep using the E-3 stand.
Last week, Relativity announced a 20-year leasing agreement with NASA to use the E-4 facilities at Stennis, which gives the start-up access to four robust testing chambers for larger tests. Relativity values the pro bono side of the agreement at $30 million, an astounding value for the burgeoning company.
The company aims to send approximately 1,250 kg into orbit, making it one of the middle range players on the orbital rocket scene. They are not solely focused on the design and development of 3D printed orbital rockets, however. Relativity have also unveiled plans to launch commercial telecommunication satellites into low orbit.
The first ever (nearly!) 3D printed orbital rockets
Space Relativity set out with an ambitious goal: to print as many of their parts for an orbital space rocket as possible. The company have now produced 95% of their orbital rocket parts using 3D printing. With the first test run of a rocket set for 2020, we are all set to see just how well the first ever 3D printed orbital rocket performs.