Relativity Space

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Relativity Space
Commercial orbital launch services
IndustryAerospace manufacturer
FateActive
Founded2015[1]
FoundersTim Ellis and Jordan Noone
Headquarters,
US
ProductsTerran 1 rocket
Number of employees
83[2] (2019)
Websitewww.relativityspace.com

Relativity Space is a private American aerospace manufacturer company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 2015 by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone.[3] Relativity is developing its own launchers and rocket engines for commercial orbital launch services.

History[edit]

Relativity Space was founded on the idea that Blue Origin and SpaceX were not doing enough to use 3D printing as part of rocket manufacturing. Relativity plans to 3D print an entire launch vehicle they call Terran 1. The extensive use of 3D printing has allowed the company to iterate designs quickly, use less tooling and human labor. In March 2018, Relativity Space signed a 20-year lease at the John C. Stennis Space Center, a NASA rocket testing facility, to test engine components and eventually test full-scale Aeon 1 rocket engines.[3][4] Relativity announced on 17 January 2019 that it won a competitive bidding process with the United States Air Force to build and operate Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) at Cape Canaveral. The company says it will launch its first rocket named Terran 1 from the site in 2020.[5] Relativity plans to start commercial launch service by early 2021.[4]

3D-printing[edit]

In order to 3D-print large components, Relativity has created a system named Stargate which it claims is the world's largest 3D printer of metals.[6][7] The system is based on selective laser sintering,[7] which uses laser beams to bond powdered metal, layer by layer, into precise and complex structures that have minimal parts. The company aims at 3D-printing at least 95% of their launcher, including the engines, by the end of 2020.[7] The company plans to eventually 3D-print a complete launch vehicle within 60 days.[8][4]

Aeon 1 rocket engine[edit]

The Aeon 1 rocket engine is designed to create 15,500 pounds of thrust (68975 newtons of force) at sea level and 19,500 pounds of thrust (86775 newtons) in a vacuum. The engine is powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen (LOX). It is made out of a nickel alloy. It has about 100 parts and is 3D-printed.[9] Relativity has completed more than 100 test firings of the Aeon 1 engine, using the E-3 facility at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.[4]

Terran 1 launch vehicle[edit]

The Terran 1 is an expendable launch vehicle under development that will consist of two stages. The first stage will use 9 Aeon 1 engines, while the second stage will use a single Aeon 1 engine. The maximum payload will be 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) to 185 km low Earth orbit, normal payload 900 kg (2,000 lb) to 500 km SSO sun synchronous orbit, high-altitude payload 700 kg (1,500 lb) to 1200 km SSO. The rocket will not use helium for pressure but will use autogenous pressurization.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Accelerating the future of space, faster". Relativity Space. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  2. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (2019-04-11). "Mark Cuban-Backed 3D-Printed Rocket Will Boost Canadian Orbital Internet Dreams". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  3. ^ a b Eric Berger (March 21, 2018). "Relativity Space reveals its ambitions with big NASA deal". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Sheetz, Michael (2018-03-27). "A start-up that manufactures rockets with giant 3-D printers just scored $35 million in funding". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  5. ^ Knapp, Alex (2019-01-17). "Under 30 Startup Relativity Space Will Be Launching From Cape Canaveral". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  6. ^ Jeff Foust (December 5, 2017). "Relativity Space aims to 3D print entire launch vehicles". SpaceNews. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Mosher, Dave (2018-10-22). "Defectors from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Tesla are developing a remarkable technology called 'Stargate' to help colonize other planets". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  8. ^ Johnson, Jennifer (2018-05-16). "Rocket Plan: How 3-D Printing Is Unlocking A New Space Race". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  9. ^ TMRO:Space - Relativity: How to print a rocket on Earth and Mars - Orbit 11.19 on YouTube
  10. ^ "Terran". Relativity Space. Retrieved January 20, 2019.

External links[edit]