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posted by Fnord666 on Friday March 23 2018, @07:48PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the that's-a-lot-of-PLA dept.

Relativity Space has signed a 20-year deal with NASA to lease the 25-acre E4 Test Complex in Southern Mississippi. The company's footprint there could be expanded to 250 acres:

Even in an era during which the aerospace industry faces significant disruption from myriad new competitors, Relativity Space stands out. The company, led by a pair of twenty-somethings who used to work for Blue Origin and SpaceX, seeks to 3D print rocket engines and the boosters themselves, reducing the number of parts in an orbital rocket from 100,000 down to fewer than 1,000.

Founded in late 2015, Relativity remained in stealth mode until last year, but now it is starting to come out of the shadows. And in doing so, the California-based company is revealing some pretty outsized ambitions. One day, in fact, the company intends to 3D print a rocket on Mars for a return trip to Earth. "We have a pretty broad long-term vision," Tim Ellis, a co-founder of Relativity, admitted in an interview with Ars.

Before it reaches Mars, of course, Relativity must first successfully 3D print a rocket on Earth. Ellis said Relativity is making good progress toward that goal, having already printed engine components for test firings. (The company has performed more than 85 engine tests of various kinds to date). Now, the company has taken a key step toward conducting a lot more engine test firings.

Relativity plans to fly 1,250 kg to LEO for $10 million per launch, with a test flight in late 2020 and commercial launches in 2021. Other small launch providers are targeting payloads in the hundreds of kilograms range.

Also at Quartz.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Relativity Space Announces Fully Reusable "Terran R" Rocket, Planned for 2024 Debut 19 comments

Relativity Space reveals fully reusable medium lift launch vehicle Terran R

Relativity Space, leveraging their 3D printing technology, has announced the next step towards supporting multiplanetary spaceflight: a fully reusable, medium lift launch vehicle named Terran R.

The company's second launch vehicle, succeeding the Terran 1 rocket to debut later this year, will have more payload capacity than the partially reusable SpaceX Falcon 9, and is only the second fully reusable commercial launch vehicle to be revealed publicly after SpaceX's Starship.

The two stage Terran R rocket will be 216 feet (65.8 meters) tall and 16 feet (4.9 meters) in diameter. The second stage features aerodynamic surfaces which will enable recovery and reuse, in addition to a reusable 5 meter diameter payload fairing. Terran R will be capable of delivering over 20,000 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit in its reusable configuration, beating Falcon 9's 15,600 kilograms with drone ship recovery.

Just like Terran 1, Relativity's small lift vehicle offering 1,250 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit, the components for Terran R will be 3D printed. Relativity Space aims to reduce cost and improve reliability by designing 3D printed vehicles with a low part count.

Previously: Relativity Space Leases Land at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi
Aerospace Startup Making 3D-Printed Rockets Now Has a Launch Site at America's Busiest Spaceport
Relativity Space Selected to Launch Satellites for Telesat


Original Submission

Relativity Space Selected to Launch Satellites for Telesat

Relativity Space announces first launch contract, and it's a big one

The ambitious rocket company Relativity announced its first customer on Friday, the global satellite operator Telesat. The contract for flights on the Terran 1 rocket includes "multiple" launches, but Relativity chief executive Tim Ellis said he could not provide additional details.

[...] Relativity considers this a huge win because it offers another validation of its—and really, this is not an exaggeration—revolutionary approach to launch. The company aspires to use large 3D printers to manufacture nearly the entirety of a rocket, thereby automating the process and taking another step toward low-cost, launch-on-demand service. It's one thing for a private company to build a new rocket to launch small satellites, it's another to try and remake the manufacturing process as well.

Ellis said Telesat has been in discussions with Relativity for awhile, so the satellite operator has had good access to Relativity's launch technology. After this due diligence, Telesat chose Relativity in addition to previous deals with SpaceX, Arianespace, and Blue Origin. Effectively, Telesat has decided that Relativity's Terran 1 booster, with a capacity of 1.25 tons to low Earth orbit, has the right stuff to help launch a major low Earth orbit satellite constellation that will provide global broadband connectivity.

Previously: Relativity Space Leases Land at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi
Aerospace Startup Making 3D-Printed Rockets Now Has a Launch Site at America's Busiest Spaceport
Blue Origin to Provide Multiple Orbital Launches for Telesat

Related: Amazon Planning its Own Satellite-Based Broadband Service, with 3,236 Satellites in Low Earth Orbit


Original Submission

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