Relativity Space closes $500 million for scaling 3D-printed rocket production

Relativity space wants to use giant 3D-printers to revolutionize the construction of rocket space – and CEO Tim Ellis told CNBC that the company now has a “war chest” of capital to do so.

“We are excited to announce a $ 500 million Series D funding round from top tier blue chip investors at a valuation of over $ 2 billion,” Elena said.

Tiger Global Management led the round, joining fellow new relativity investors Fidelity, Bailey Gifford, ICONIQ Capital, General Catalyst, XN Capital, Senator Investment Group and Allad Gill. Additionally, existing relativity shareholders Bond Capital, Trib Capital, K5 Global, 3L Capital, Playground Global, Allen & Co, Mark Cuban and Spencer Raskoff also participated in the round.

CNBC’s valuation of relativity climbed to $ 2.3 billion after this round last week. According to Pitchbook, Relativity is the second most valuable private space company in the world after SpaceX. In particular, the pitchbook’s rankings do not include space enterprise Blue Origin, which is entirely funded by Jeff Bezos.

“It really accelerates the speed and scaling of relativity as we focus on production and various infrastructure expansion projects beyond the first launch,” Ellis said. “There are other exciting new initiatives going on – ones we can discuss next year – with this capital … but we’re not in the business of taking small swings where we think technology can go.”

Relativity focuses on building the first iteration of its Terran 1 rocket, with 95% of its parts built using the “world’s largest 3D-printer” that the company has developed in-house. Ellis emphasized that 3D-printing essentially allows the entire rocket to be less complex and faster to create or modify than conventional rockets – which can only use 3D-printed parts for certain components . Additionally, Relativity states that its simple process will eventually be able to transform raw materials into rockets on the launchpad within 60 days.

The Terran 1 is priced at $ 12 million per launch and is designed to carry 1,250 kilograms of low Earth orbit. In the midst of the US launch market, the Terrain 1 is positioned between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, both in price and capacity.

Aeon 1 rocket engine test

Relativity space

While Relativity’s first Terran 1 launch is not due until the end of next year, the company has made significant progress in developing and validating a 3D printing approach to building a rocket. A series of pressure tests showed that the material was strong enough for launch and Relativity recently completed a full-term test firing of its Ain 1 engine. Nine of the engines will power the Terran 1 rocket.

The company stepped into its new Long Beach, California headquarters this summer – a 120,000-square-foot facility that would serve as the foundation for its construction and launch business. The new feature allows Relativity’s third generation “Stargate” 3D-printer to create a piece of metal 32 feet long.

The factory floor of Relativity’s new headquarters in Long Beach, California.

Relativity space

Relativity is also building its footprint in other parts of the US, with engine testing standing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and a launch pad at the US Air Force’s Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg in California.

“This is really just the beginning of 10 years of how we are going to disrupt this industry,” Ellis said.

Why relativity increased now

Ellis said the company was not yet planning to raise new capital. Relativity has the majority of its funding at $ 140 million in October 2019, which funded the company’s Terran 1 rocket development in October 2019 – a fact that Ellis insisted is still true today. Instead, Ellis felt that Relativity could bring in new funds that would allow the company to “sink our teeth and speed up the work” that it has started.

The company’s “Stargate” 3D-printer.

Relativity space

Ellis also said that making relativity public through a SPAC deal “was certainly a possibility,” but staying private was “a direction favored by Longshot.” SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, have become an increasingly popular way to go public as an alternative to the traditional IPO market. But seeking private capital was “a conscious choice” that Relativity made.

“It lets us keep our heads down and execute and not have to worry about some of the overhead of being a public company today,” Elena said. “We achieved this and are really humble with the level of interest from these world class investors.”

Two of Relativity’s new major shareholders – Fidelity and Bailey Gifford – have previously invested in the space industry, as both companies had previously placed bets in SpaceX. Ellis argued that “Relativity is the first company in SpaceX to lag behind this class of investor after SpaceX”.

“These firms actually have a track record of investing in the world’s most prestigious and prestigious startups across all industries,” Ellis said. “Relativity is at the forefront of an inevitable shift towards software-defined manufacturing and the unique approach to 3D-printing we’re taking is really … an automation technology that moves the entire value chain around building a rocket She transforms. “

The company has continued to hire quickly this year, Ellis noted, and now has more than 230 employees.

Mars goal of relativity

This vista of the Endeavor crater rim was acquired by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover opportunity from the southern end of the “Murray Ridge” on the western rim of the crater.

Source: NASA

As the company nears its first launch, Ellis described Relativity’s “long-term vision of building humanity’s infrastructure on Mars” as its guiding principle.

“We want to lead and work to build humanity’s industrial base on Mars,” Ellis said. “It really stems from 3D printing technology, which we can actually start [delivering to Mars] By launching small pieces. “

Their goal is similar to Elon Musk’s with SpaceX, though Relativity is not focused on launching people. Instead, Ellis initially helps Relativity build on Mars, initially sending a small 3D-printer for “the first object ever created by humanity on another planet”, which is “that future Which we are going towards. “

“I think it will be possible in less than 10 years, maybe even faster.” Alice said.

Ellis said she is “overjoyed” at SpaceX’s work to develop its next generation of starship rockets, which Musk’s company intends to use to carry more than 100 people at a time on Mars. Ellis said that Relativity might have been “flown by a customer of the starship and our 3D-printer on Mars”.

Ellis said, “I want to inspire dozens of companies to work on a mission to make humanity multitalented and to expand the possibilities for human experience.” “I am hoping that the continued success of Relativity inspires and inspires more entrepreneurs to companies that have very attractive near-term business opportunities, but also towards building a sustainable society on Mars Can build. “

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