Relativity Space has confirmed it now has the required funding to launch its entirely 3D printed Terran 1 rocket into orbit.
It comes after the company closed a $140m Series C funding round which has been led by Bond, a backer of such tech firms as Uber and Spotify, and Tribe Capital, a Silicon-Valley venture capital company. Relativity expects to enter commercial service by 2021.
The company is bidding to become the first to launch an entirely 3D printed rocket into orbit, with efforts being powered by its proprietary Stargate arc-welding printing technology. Stargate, which consists of three robotic arms to print, remove material from, and polish parts, is being supplemented by machine learning software as Relativity works to manufacture Terran 1, with its 1250kg payload capacity, in 60 days. Typically, it would take years to produce a rocket of this kind.
It has taken Relativity four years to get to this point. Founded by CEO Tim Ellis and CTO Jordan Noone in 2015, Relativity is aiming to additively manufacture a rocket on Mars. The company has gone on to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, has expanded print capacity by four times, has completed more than 200 engine hotfire tests at NASA Stennis Space Center, and will have scaled its overall infrastructure from 10,000-square-feet to 480,000-square-feet by the end of the year. A staff force of 14 at the beginning of last year has grown to 110, while a senior executive team of industry leaders has also been set up. Customer contracts with Telesat, mu Space and Spaceflight Industries have also been secured.
This successful start has garnered the interest of many a venture capital firm, with Bond and Tribe Capital leading the Series C round which also saw new contributions from Lee Fixel, Michael Ovitz, Spencer Rascoff, Republic Labs and Jared Leto and repeat contributions from Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital and Mark Cuban. Bond believes Relativity’s ‘world-class team’ has the potential and vision to ‘reimagine rocket development’, while Tribe Capital says Relativity ‘will push forward an entire ecosystem of hardware and software systems to take humanity beyond Earth’s orbit.’
“Relativity was founded with the long-term vision of 3D printing the first rocket made on Mars and expanding the possibilities for human experience in our lifetime. With the close of our Series C funding, we are now one step closer to that vision by being fully funded to launch Terran to orbit as the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket,” commented Relativity CEO Ellis. “Bond and Tribe are unrivalled partners in leading this funding round, and we are excited to build this important future together with our entire.”
“We are excited to complete the development of Terran 1, providing an entirely new value chain for our customers,” added CTO Noone. “As we build Terran 1, we will continue to expand the Stargate factory, achieving another milestone towards our long-term vision.”