Relativity Space Raises $650M for Its Recyclable Rocket

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Relativity Space Raises $650M for Its Recyclable Rocket

Aerospace upstart Relativity Space and its CEO Tim Ellis are trying to take on SpaceX in the recyclable rocket race. The company has landed a new funding round to produce a fully reusable rocket that could launch within three years.

Long Beach-based Relativity raised a $650 Series E round June 8 to fund the development and production of its Terran R rocket, a reusable craft that will be 95% 3D-printed — including its engines — and launch by 2024, according to CEO Tim Ellis.

The new round was led by existing investors Fidelity Management & Research. WIth this round, Relativity Space has raised roughly $1.9 billion since its 2015 launch.

Ellis told dot.LA that the funding round is pivotal in helping Relativity reach its lofty goals.

"Ever since Relativity's early days in Y Combinator, we've planned to manufacture a large reusable rocket along with Terran 1 and now we're one step closer to fulfilling that vision," he said in an email.

Ellis added that the company has already sold the first multiple launch contract for Terran R, even though the rocket isn't finished yet and said "our team is excited by the progress this new funding will enable in its development."

"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," said in an earlier statement.

SpaceX has been reusing rockets -- or parts of them -- since 2010. The company's Falcon 9 rocket is recyclable and has been in use since 2012, and SpaceX first successfully re-lit used rocket boosters during a test the year after. The Falcon Heavy and Starship crafts developed by SpaceX also use reusable components.

Relativity's renderings of the Terran R show a craft that is 216 feet tall and looks like something straight out of "Star Trek." The sleek, aerodynamic craft is 16 feet in diameter and capable of sending over 44,000 pounds into low Earth orbit.

The craft has a lot of firepower -- seven identical 3D-printed engines that will give the rocket over 300,000 pounds of upward thrust each.

The Terran R is the reusable counterpart to Relativity's Terran 1 rocket, which has already secured Department of Defense contracts to launch satellites by June of next year. Six private companies have signed on to launch on the rocket so far, including Iridium, Telesat, Spaceflight, mu Space, Momentus, and TriSept.

"We're focusing our energy towards the first launch of Terran 1, the world's first completely 3D printed rocket, which is the most pre-sold rocket in history and building Terran R," Ellis told dot.LA.

Relativity said that over 85% of the Terran 1 rocket is printed and is on track for a test launch this year from the company's site at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Terran R rocket will eventually launch from the same complex.

Besides being recyclable, the biggest difference between the Terran R and the Terran 1 is that the R is capable of holding a payload 20 times bigger.

If the Terran R craft lands successfully and all parts are reusable, it could be a game-changer not only for launch contractors such as the DoD, but also other rocket manufacturing companies.

Ellis claims the company has "radically simplified" its supply chain and can build a rocket in less than two months with "over 100 times fewer parts" than a conventional rocket build.

Automated 3D printing rockets cost a fraction of what a typical rocket production line would, and SpaceX has already proven that reusable rocket parts are both feasible and cheap. With a successful model for reusable spaceflight, Relativity could gear itself up for a flurry of interested launch partners looking to reach orbit for a nominal price.

Other existing investors returned to back Relativity again, including U.K.-based asset manager Baillie Gifford, Tiger Global Capital, K5 Global, Tribe Capital, hedge fund XN, actor Jared Leto and "Shark Tank" star and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

Spencer Rascoff, a co-founder and investor in dot.LA, contributed to Relativity Space's Series E through his L.A.-based investment firm 75 and Sunny, as well as in prior funding rounds.

New investors including Brad Buss, private equity firm Centricus and New York City-based hedge fund Coatue also joined the round.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout with comments from Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

LA Tech Week Day 5: Social Highlights
Evan Xie

L.A. Tech Week has brought venture capitalists, founders and entrepreneurs from around the world to the California coast. With so many tech nerds in one place, it's easy to laugh, joke and reminisce about the future of tech in SoCal.

Here's what people are saying about the fifth day of L.A. Tech Week on social:

Read moreShow less

LA Tech Week: Six LA-Based Greentech Startups to Know

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

LA Tech Week: Six LA-Based Greentech Startups to Know
Samson Amore

At Lowercarbon Capital’s LA Tech Week event Thursday, the synergy between the region’s aerospace industry and greentech startups was clear.

The event sponsored by Lowercarbon, Climate Draft (and the defunct Silicon Valley Bank’s Climate Technology & Sustainability team) brought together a handful of local startups in Hawthorne not far from LAX, and many of the companies shared DNA with arguably the region’s most famous tech resident: SpaceX.

Read moreShow less

LA Tech ‘Moves’: LeaseLock, Visgenx, PlayVS and Pressed Juicery Gains New CEOs

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: LeaseLock, Visgenx, PlayVS and Pressed Juicery Gains New CEOs
LA Tech ‘Moves’:

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis ( Please send job changes and personnel moves to


LeaseLock, a lease insurance and financial technology provider for the rental housing industry named Janine Steiner Jovanovic as chief executive officer. Prior to this role, Steiner Jovanovic served as the former EVP of Asset Optimization at RealPage.

Esports platform PlayVS hired EverFi co-founder and seasoned business leader Jon Chapman as the company’s chief executive officer.

Biotechnology company Visgenx appointed William Pedranti, J.D. as chief executive officer. Before joining, Mr. Pedranti was a partner with PENG Life Science Ventures.

Pressed Juicery, the leading cold-pressed juice and functional wellness brand welcomed Justin Nedelman as chief executive officer. His prior roles include chief real estate officer of FAT Brands Inc. and co-founder of Eureka! Restaurant Group.

Michael G. Vicari joined liquid biopsy company Nucleix as chief commercial officer. Vicari served as senior vice president of Sales at GRAIL, Inc.

Full-service performance marketing agency Allied Global Marketing promoted Erin Corbett to executive vice president of global partnership and marketing. Prior to joining Allied, Corbett's experience included senior marketing roles at Disney, Warner Bros. Studios, Harrah's Entertainment and Imagi Animation Studios.

Nuvve, a vehicle-to-grid technology company tapped student transportation and automotive sales and marketing executive David Bercik to lead the K-12 student transportation division.