Blast Off! Relativity Space Plans Its Own Reusable Rocket

Blast Off! Relativity Space Plans Its Own Reusable Rocket

Relativity Space, the Long Beach 3D-printed rocket maker, has unveiled plans to create a fully reusable rocket.

CEO Tim Ellis told CNBC that the move is an "obvious evolution" for the company. The announcement comes on the heels of a hefty $500 million round he closed in November.

"It's the same architecture, the same propellant, the same factory, the same 3D printers, the same avionics and the same team," Ellis told the outlet.

Dubbed Terran R, Relativity's second launch vehicle will carry 20 times the payload as its first model, which is slated to launch for the first time later this year, he said. That inches the company even closer to rivaling SpaceX's partially reusable rocket, Falcon 9.

The announcement kicks off a series of new initiatives. It's the five-year-old company's first big move since its latest round that bumped its valuation up to $3.2 billion. And Ellis told CNBC that Relativity is "in active dialogue" for a number of contracts for both rocket models.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk's SpaceX was valued at $46 billion in early 2020 after its own massive boost.

Relativity could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company boasts the world's largest robotic metal 3D printer that does away with the thousands of parts typically used to build rockets. The rockets require fewer than 1,000 parts and about 95% of each is 3D printed. And they're ready to launch in 60 days, Ellis told dot.LA last year.

Relativity's backers include Tiger Global Management, Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital and Mark Cuban. dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff is also an investor.

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Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.