3D Printed Rocket Company Relativity Signs Agreement with Satellite Rideshare Provider Spaceflight
Venture-backed Relativity has been busily disrupting the aerospace industry for the last four years with its 3D printed rockets. Based in Los Angeles, the autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite constellations is working to create the first aerospace platform that will integrate software, robotics, and machine learning with metal 3D printing to rapidly manufacture and launch rockets in just days, with little human intervention.
Last month, Relativity announced a multi-launch contract with global satellite operator Telesat to support its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation, and then a launch contract with Thai space technology company mu Space to launch its 3D printed Terran 1 rocket. Now, it has signed a new Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Spaceflight, a top satellite rideshare and mission management provider.
“With Spaceflight’s leadership in rideshare launch solutions, state-of-the-art integration infrastructure, and experience, we are excited to work together to offer industry-defining lead time, flexibility, and cost for smallsats and cubesats and meaningfully expand the total launch capacity available through Spaceflight’s offering. We look forward to building the space economy together and supporting disruptive commercial and government payload missions,” said Tim Ellis, the CEO and Co-Founder of Relativity.
This new LSA will help set Relativity up as a good launch option for much of the small satellite, microsat, and cubesat launch market. Its 3D printed Terran 1 launcher will also be serving small Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) missions for small satellites. In less than 60 days, the rocket was built all the way from raw material to a launch-ready state, and can support a payload of up to 1250 kg. It has a simpler supply chain and 100 less parts than traditional rockets, thanks in large part to Relativity’s Stargate 3D printing robot.
Based in Washington, Spaceflight has so far used ten different launch vehicles to provide rideshare and integration services for almost 240 satellites from organizations in over 30 countries. Under the new LSA, Spaceflight will be manifesting missions to LEO on the Terran 1 rocket – the agreement includes the first launch, scheduled to occur in Q3 2021, along with options for future rideshare launches.
“We consistently look for innovative new technologies that provide flexible, reliable, and low-cost access to space for our customers. Relativity’s autonomous platform and 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket delivers key advantages in launching rideshare payloads,” said Curt Blake, the CEO and President of Spaceflight.
Relativity has been working to expand its infrastructure and team this year, in addition to its portfolio of major government partnerships – it just became the first venture-backed company to secure a launch site Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16 from the US Air Force. The company is also securing a site for polar and Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) launches.
By partnering with Spaceflight and combining a patented 3D printing technology platform with rapid-response rideshare launch capabilities, Relativity will be able to increase the growth of its customer manifests, and together they can offer more launch schedule flexibility and reliability. Relativity will be conducting its first orbital test launch at the end of 2020; if this goes will, it plans to enter commercial service in 2021.
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