Rocket startup Relativity Space piles up talent and resources

Posted Feb 17, 2019 by Karen Graham
Today, three-year-old rocket startup, Relativity Space has not only added real estate but employees — and is putting the finishing touches on three additional 3D printers, each larger and more advanced than the company's first printer.
Relativity Space’s Stargate 3-D printer is at work at the company’s Los Angeles factory  with a ...
Relativity Space’s Stargate 3-D printer is at work at the company’s Los Angeles factory, with a 3-D printed fuel tank sitting at left.
Relatvity Space
The Los Angeles, California-based orbital launch company was founded in December 2015 by Jordan Noone, who serves as Executive Director at Relativity Space, Inc. and Tim Ellis, who serves as CEO at Relativity Space.
A year ago, the company had 10,000 square feet of space, 14 employees and one enormous world-class 3D printer. Today, the startup rocket company has more than 60,000 square feet of space and 64 employees, many of them veterans from other well-known tech companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Tesla, Waymo, Virgin Orbit and more, reports [url=
Stargate  up-close and personal.
Stargate, up-close and personal.
Relativity Space
Starting out 2019 on a high note
Relativity Space also has added a couple feathers to its cap. The company has been granted a patent for its autonomous 3D printing technology. The patent covers the company's machine-learning metal additive manufacturing platform which is used to produce its launch vehicles.
But this is just half of the news. In late January this year, Relativity Space announced it had a deal with the U.S. Air Force to begin launching its rockets from Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Launch Complex 16, also known as LC-16, has its own historical significance. Built in the 1950s, it was used to launch LGM-25 Titan missiles and later used for NASA operations before being transferred back to the US military and used for tests of MGM-31 Pershing missiles.
The Titan I C-1 lifts off from the Cape s Launch Complex 16. This RVX-3 Re-entry Vehicle Test missio...
The Titan I C-1 lifts off from the Cape's Launch Complex 16. This RVX-3 Re-entry Vehicle Test mission was a failure as the second stage did not fire. (March 8, 1960).
U.S. Air Force
The last Pershing launch from the facility was conducted on March 21, 1988. It was deactivated the next day and subsequently decommissioned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union (and its successor state, the Russian Federation). The U.S. formally suspended the treaty on 1 February 2019, and Russia did so the following day.
Relativity's Terran rocket
Relativity's Terran 1 rocket will fit in quite nicely in the middle of the launch market. The Terran's weight puts it between SpaceX's large Falcon 9 rocket and Rocket Lab's small Electron rocket. While SpaceX and Rocket Lab have reached orbit many times, Terran 1 is not expected to launch until 2021.
The Terran 1 launch vehicle 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. Each Aeon engine is designed to create 15,500 pounds of thrust (68975 newtons of force) at sea level and 19,500 pounds of thrust (86775 newtons) in a vacuum. The engine is powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen.
The Terran 1 can be manufactured in less than 60 days using 3D printing.
The Terran 1 can be manufactured in less than 60 days using 3D printing.
Relativity Space
Made out of nickel alloy, the Aeon engine has 100 parts and is 3D printed using Stargate, which is believed to be the world's largest 3D printer of metals. Relativity's 3D printers will be able to manufacture a Terran rocket "in less than 60 days," the company says.
Relativity’s Terran 1 will carry 1,250 kilograms to orbit, about five to eight times more than Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket and about 20 times less than SpaceX’s Falcon 9, according to Quartz.
According to CNBC, Relativity's valuation of about $100 million, using traditional venture capital metrics, is a fraction of Rocket Lab's more than $1 billion and SpaceX's $30.5 billion. As for price - Relativity is also in the middle, with a launch costing $10 million.