Relativity Space adds $500 million funding round to cash reserve » 3dpbm

Relativity Space, which recently had its rocket design selected by Lockheed Martin for a NASA mission to take flight in 2021, has secured another $500 million in its series D funding round. The company secured the lion’s share of this cash from Tiger Global Management with participation from new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Baillie Gifford, ICONIQ Capital, General Catalyst, XN, Senator Investment Group, and Elad Gil. Existing investors participating in the round include BOND, Tribe Capital, K5 Global, 3L, Playground Global, Mark Cuban, Spencer Rascoff, and Allen & Company LLC, among others.

The company claims that this fresh round of funding leads its sector momentum “across commercial execution, technical milestones, and talent growth. The funding will enable Relativity to accelerate its planned initiatives, including its factory of the future, launch vehicle development, and 3D printing technologies as it builds toward humanity’s multi-planetary future.”

While the company’s fundraising has been very effective, with a total of $684.5 million raised across all of its funding rounds, the company has yet to release sufficient detail about its additive manufacturing processes. This lack of detail means that the AM industry cannot properly evaluate the scope of Relativity’s achievement or the promise of its technology.

Industry players should be dubious of this Silicon Valley company’s sweeping claims. The company congratulates itself in glowing, perhaps even youthful, terms:

Disrupting 60 years of aerospace, Relativity’s radically simplified supply chain enables the company to build its orbital rocket, Terran 1, with 100x fewer parts in less than 60 days. By fusing 3D printing, artificial intelligence, proprietary software, and autonomous robotics, Relativity’s team is creating an entirely new value chain for aerospace, starting with orbital launch.

The proof is in the pudding, and disrupting sixty years of aerospace engineering with the load of tech that Relativity claims to possess needs independent verification.

To be sure, however, Relativity’s concept is exciting. Its rocket tests do show the world that the company can generate thrust. Its real test will come in 2021 when the Terran 1 finally takes flight. Even then, though, the technology with which the launch vehicle is wrought will need to be verified by an independent press before the company can truly claim to possess ‘sector-leading momentum’: cash cannot always be king.

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