“The next rocket is basically a baby starship”
Aerospace company Relativity Space has secured a $650 million Series E equity funding round.
The round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC with participation from investors including Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Centricus, Coatue, K5 Global, Soroban Capital, Tiger Global, Tribe Capital, XN, Brad Buss, Mark Cuban, Jared Leto, and Spencer Rascoff’s 75 & Sunny, among others.
The goal of this funding? Accelerate production of Terran R, a fully resuable and 3D printed rocket; that aims to enable the next generation satellite launches and multiplanetary transportation.
“From our founding days in Y Combinator just five years ago, we planned on 3D printing Terran 1 and then Terran R – a 20X larger fully reusable rocket – on our Factory of the Future platform,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Relativity. “Today we are one step closer to this goal. Together with our first rocket Terran 1, our second product, Terran R, will continue to take advantage of Relativity’s disruptive approach to 3D printing – reduced part count, improved speed of innovation, flexibility, and reliability – to bring to market the next generation of launch vehicles. Relativity was founded with the mission to 3D print entire rockets and build humanity’s industrial base on Mars. We were inspired to make this vision a reality, and believe there needs to be dozens to hundreds of companies working to build humanity’s multiplanetary future on Mars. Scalable, autonomous 3D printing is inevitably required to thrive on Mars, and Terran R is the second product step in a long-term journey Relativity is planning ahead.”
Created in Relativity’s Factory of the Future by the same printers as Terran 1, Terran R has unique aerodynamic features with algorithmically generated and optimized structures. The company’s proprietary 3D printing process is enabled by software and data-driven manufacturing, exotic 3D printed materials, and unique design geometries that are not possible with traditional manufacturing, driving a faster rate of compounding progress and iteration in the industry. As a two-stage, 216-foot-tall rocket with a 16-foot diameter, and a 5-meter payload fairing, Terran R will be fully reusable including its engines, first stage, second stage, and payload fairing, and will be capable of launching over 20,000kg to low Earth orbit (LEO) in reusable configuration. Terran R will be outfitted with seven entirely 3D-printed Aeon R rocket engines capable of 302,000 lb. thrust each, while its upper stage houses one Aeon Vac engine, with a pathfinder engine having already completed full duration testing at the beginning of this year. Aeon R is a scaled, high pressure version of the gas generator cycle Aeon 1 already planning to fly on Terran 1, and similarly uses cryogenic liquid methane and oxygen propellants and runs with autogenous tank pressurization. Starting in 2024, Terran R will launch from Launch Complex 16, the company’s site at Cape Canaveral, where Terran 1 is also set to launch this year.
Combined with the ability to launch 20X more payload than Terran 1, Terran R provides both commercial and government customers affordable access to space, in LEO and beyond. With low earth orbit, medium earth orbit and geosynchronous satellite constellations representing the largest part of the growing market, Terran R helps accommodate the company’s growing pipeline of commercial interest, including the recent signing of its first anchor customer launch contract for Terran R.
“There’s an organic relationship between 3D-printing and reusability, and it gives us an unparalleled advantage to design the best fully reusable rocket possible,” said Ellis. “Over the last year, we found ourselves being asked by the market to accelerate development of our larger launch vehicle, so we knew it was time to double down on our existing plans and scale the Terran R program even faster and build production capabilities at scale sooner.”
Terran R will also eventually offer customers a point-to-point space freighter capable of missions between the Earth, Moon and Mars. “Terran R is at the cutting edge of rocket innovation and design,” said Zach Dunn, SVP of Engineering and Manufacturing at Relativity. “Fully reusable and entirely 3D printed, Terran R will be well suited to serve customers’ evolving needs in the large satellite constellation industry, while also representing a significant leap towards achieving our mission of building humanity’s industrial base off of Earth.”
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