Rendering of Relativity factory in Mississippi (Source: Relativity)

Relativity building robot 3D printing rocket factory in Mississippi

Los Angeles-based Relativity announced it is going to build a robotic 3D printing rocket factory in Mississippi along with expanding its commitment to testing facilities at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. All total, Relativity expects to invest $59 million and create 200 jobs in Mississippi, winning it favor both with NASA and its Congressional delegation.

“We are excited to partner with NASA and the Mississippi Development Authority to bring our patented 3D printing rocket platform to Hancock County,“ said Jordan Noone, cofounder and CTO of Relativity. “We believe this groundbreaking technology is the future of aerospace manufacturing, and we look forward to bringing this innovation to the Gulf Coast.”

Relativity’s rocket factory will build its Terran 1 vehicle in days instead of months, using robotics and large-scale metal 3D printing. The newly announced agreement builds on Relativity’s existing agreement to use NASA test facilities at Stennis and includes an exclusive use of 220,000 square feet with a 9 year lease with an option to extend it for 10 years after that.  

First flight of Relativity’s Terran 1 is expected in 2020, with first stage assembly, engine integration and testing, and a full 3D printing and robotics-enabled production line taking place at the Mississippi facility. Launch will take place from the company’s Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

Terran 1 is designed be built from scratch and launched in under 60 days, delivering 1,250 kilograms of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO) for a list price of $10 million. Relativity jumps into an increasingly crowded field of new small launch firms, including Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, Vector, and Firefly.  Rocket Lab has successfully launched its Electron five times and plans to launch on a monthly basis starting in June. Virgin Orbit and Vector plan to launch their first vehicles later this year with Firefly planning its first launch by December if testing goes well.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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