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Momentus–Relativity Space Agreement Will Lead to Multiple Launches for First 3D Printed Rocket

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Relativity Space, headquartered in Los Angeles, continues to forge ahead within the 3D printing and additive manufacturing realm—but even more so, within the aerospace industry. Now, they have announced a partnership with Momentus, in the form of a Launch Services Agreement (LSA).

The Santa Clara, CA-based supplier of in-space shuttle services for moving satellites between orbits will now use Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket to launch both small and medium-sized satellites. The Terran is unique, qualifying as the only completely 3D printed rocket.

Momentus will also be responsible for delivering the satellites into geosynchronous orbit (GEO) with their Momentus Vigoride Extended in-space shuttle service. The agreement also includes:

  • Purchase of a first launch scheduled for 2021.
  • Options for five additional launches with Relativity.
  • Access to a wide range of orbits for Terran 1, to include geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), lunar and deep space orbits, lower inclinations, and phasing of multiple spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO).
  • Access for small satellites to more flexible launch capabilities.

“Along with the company’s accelerating leadership in launching medium payload class satellite constellations, this Launch Services Agreement with Momentus positions Relativity to launch a significant segment of the small satellite and microsat market,” states a recent press release sent to 3DPrint.com.

“By combining Momentus’ innovative and sustainable in-space shuttle service capabilities with Relativity’s groundbreaking, autonomous 3D printing rocket factory, the companies will provide greater access, schedule flexibility, reliability, and lower cost, transforming the satellite launch market in LEO and beyond.”

As graduates of the Y Combinator accelerator program, both companies share a similar vision for ‘building the future of humanity in space.’ This goal may seem ambitious, but they are well-funded so far as Momentus just completed a round of Series A financing. This brings them to an overall funding total of $34 million, leaving the Momentus team to continue forward as innovators and true pioneers in space transportation.

“We are excited to announce an LSA partnership with Relativity for launch and shuttle services for small satellites to geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and to provide annual rideshare flights to GEO for satellites from 10kg up to 350kg,” said Mikhail Kokorich, CEO of Momentus. “Relativity’s advances in rocket manufacturing and launch combined with our proprietary orbital shuttle capabilities opens new opportunities for microsatellite revolution beyond low Earth orbit.”

Transporting satellites with masses up to 300 kg from LEO to GTO, or up to 100 kg directly from LEO to GEO, Lunar orbit, and beyond is possible on a Vigoride Extended. Vigoride Extended can be launched from an ESPA Grande ring or from almost any small dedicated launcher or larger rideshare vehicle (Image: Momentus)

Meanwhile, Relativity continues development of their first autonomous aerospace factory, to include:

  • Machine learning
  • Software
  • Robotics
  • 3D metal printing technology

(Image: Relativity)

A rocket like the Terran 1 model is built in under 60 days, and ready to launch at that time, featuring a 1250kg payload capacity.

“With Momentus’ innovations in sustainable in-space ‘last mile’ solutions, we look forward to working together to expand Terran 1’s flexibility and offering beyond LEO, offering small and medium satellite launch opportunities with industry-defining lead time, flexibility, and cost,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and Cofounder of Relativity. “This partnership will enable us to build the space economy faster and accelerate the future of humanity in space.”

The Relativity team also plans to continue client expansion of satellite and other commercial companies, and government payloads. They have increased infrastructure significantly, grown from 14 to 105 customers, and are also the first company to secure several extremely important launch sites.

Recent customer agreements have been made with Telesat, mu Space, and Spaceflight Industries, with a projection for Relativity to ‘enter commercial service in 2021.’ They are backed by investors to include Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital, Phillip Spector formerly of Intelsat, and Mark Cuban.

(Image: Relativity)

3D printing has deep roots in the aerospace industry, and NASA has embraced its benefits for many years before anyone even realized the benefits of 3D printing and rapid prototyping. From technology to improve liquid rocket engines to creating antennas for satellite systems, and offering improved techniques for aerospace repair and maintenance, 3D printing and additive manufacturing continue to complement many aspects of aerospace engineering.

[Source: Relativity Space/Momentus press release]

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