Relativity Space has big goals. The company, which was formed in 2015, wants to fully 3D print rockets with a giant 3D printer and almost no human intervention. In the roughly three years that Relativity Space has been in existence, it has built what it describes as the world’s largest metal 3D printer and has completed more than 100 rocket engine test fires. The custom-build rockets that the company wants to 3D print are being designed to carry more than just CubeSats, taking large payloads – as large as a small car, to be exact, six times the abilities of its competitors.
Relativity Space uses machine learning in combination with custom software, hardware and proprietary metal alloys to fabricate over 95% of its rockets’ major components using 3D printing. In doing so, the company has cut part count from 100,000 to 1,000 and greatly reduced labor and timelines. As a result, its customers will save millions of dollars at every launch.
“The future of space requires faster, cheaper, more flexible rocket production and launch that is simply not possible with traditional approaches. By leveraging an all-in approach to 3D printing, we will fully automate the production of rockets. This will change the way the launch industry views lead times, product iteration rates, and costs,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder of Relativity Space. “Our technology development is also on-path toward scaling and sustaining an interplanetary society. We will build toward this amazing future far faster with our new capabilities.”
Today, Relativity Space announced the closing of its $35 million Series B financing, led by Playground Global and with full participation from existing Series A investors Social Capital, Y Combinator Continuity and Mark Cuban. The funding will be used to advance the company’s scalable and automated process for building and launching rockets, from conception to production. The latest round brings Relativity Space’s total venture funding to more than $45 million.
The funding will also allow Relativity Space to continue its growth in the satellite constellation market and expand its partnerships. The company separates itself from its competitors, which have been focusing on small payloads at the expense of margins, by concentrating on larger payloads with unprecedented flexibility, lead time and low cost. Relativity’s approach is a difficult but lucrative one.
Relativity Space already has over $1 billion worth of MOUs and LOIs from leading commercial and government entities around the world. It is the only venture-backed startup selected for the National Space Council Users Advisory Group, through which Ellis serves as an advisor to the White House. The company also was recently awarded a first-of-its-kind 20-year test site partnership with NASA Stennis for exclusive lease and use of the 25-acre E4 Test Complex. The agreement allows Relativity to develop, qualify and acceptance test up to 36 rockets per year and includes an option to expand up to 250 acres.
Relativity Space is growing fast – since January of this year, the company has quadrupled its infrastructure footprint size, going from 10,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space to more than 40,000.
“Relativity is shaking up an industry that hasn’t experienced this level of innovation in decades. We are excited to be a part of a company that is taking a radical approach and we believe Relativity brings significant value to the aerospace ecosystem,” said Jory Bell, Investment Partner at Playground Global and Relativity Board Member.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Images: Relativity Space]
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