'Everything That Flies Will be 3D Printed in 20 Years': Relativity's CEO On How Private Biz is Changing the Space Race

'Everything That Flies Will be 3D Printed in 20 Years': Relativity's CEO On How Private Biz is Changing the Space Race

Relativity Space co-founder Tim Ellis said Thursday that he expects that 20,000 satellites will launch in the next five years, representing a $25 billion market for the 3D rocket printer to compete in.

The company, which recently announced it is moving into a new headquarters complex in Long Beach, is currently building its first rocket, which is expected to launch next year. His goal is to make the company a strong competitor in the $350 billion space economy against bigger rivals like Space X and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.

Ellis told an audience at the Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica that private companies are paving the way for cheaper and more efficient ways of getting satellites into orbit in an aerospace industry dominated by legacy giants like Boeing.

"We still use the same tools in aerospace that owe did sixty years ago," he said. "The aerospace industry just hasn't had a renaissance yet."

Ellis said his rockets, made using giant 3D printers, builds components with 1,000 parts in two to six months. Meanwhile, traditional rocket building uses about 100,000 parts and can take up to 48 months.

Relativity's Terran 1 rocket can be built in about 60 days, he said. The company counts Mark Cuban and Tribe Capital among its backers, and has raised $185 million in venture funding. Ellis expects the industry to flourish as manufacturing shifts away from traditional methods.

"Everything that flies will be 3D printed in 20 years," he said.

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Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake


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