Getting to space isn’t as difficult as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Relativity Space aims to vastly simplify the incredibly complex machine that is a launch vehicle by 3D-printing it from tip to tail fins. Co-founder and CEO Tim Ellis will be joining us at TC Sessions: Space on December 16 & 17 to discuss the company’s ambitious plans and upcoming first launch.
Relativity was founded in 2015 and since then has racked up a full slate of eager customers, making its Terran-1 rocket possibly the most pre-sold launch vehicle ever. And it’s not hard to see why. The 3D printing process that Ellis, with co-founder and CTO Jordan Noone, dreamed up while cutting their rocketry teeth at Blue Origin, is potentially revolutionary.
Launch vehicles are normally made up of thousands of parts, each of which must be manufactured, inspected, and fitted together individually. This not only makes building a rocket a long and complex process, but an expensive one, too.
Relativity’s approach is to 3D print everything it possibly can in its enormous “Stargate” printers, reducing the total number of parts by orders of magnitude — while, at least according to pre-flight tests, not affecting the final product’s performance. In fact, by removing the magnification of minor manufacturing defects and human error in assembly, reliability and performance can be significantly improved.
And if something goes wrong, well, you can break down the old one and print a new one in about two months, a fraction of the time it would take to build a new Delta IV or Falcon 9. Altogether it’s a very attractive proposition.
Of course, creating an entire new manufacturing process for rocketry from scratch is something of a major endeavor, but Relativity has done enough to convince both investors and customers that it is far from a mere science project. The company raised $35 million in 2018 and $140 million in 2019, and is preparing for its first orbital flight in 2021.
With next year shaping up to be the most important since the company was founded, Ellis will have a great deal to discuss, from the technology they use to the competition they’ll be going up against.
Get an early-bird ticket for just $125 until next week. And we have discounts available for groups, students, active military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to pitch and give their startup some extra visibility.