Relativity Space raised $500 million to help it build its 3D rocket ships in a round led by Tiger Global Management, CNBC reported on Tuesday.
The raise, one of the largest this year for a Los Angeles startup, would reportedly value the company at $3.2 billion and put the region at the center of a new wave of high-value space companies.
Earlier this year, Hawthorne-headquartered SpaceX raised $1.9 billion at a reported $46 billion valuation.
Neither Relativity nor Tiger Global could be reached for comment.
Relativity was created by two twenty-somethings and seeks to revolutionize spaceflight by building the world's first 3D-printed rocket with its first iteration called Terran 1. The process is cheaper than traditional manufacturing and CEO and co-founder Tim Ellis, an alum of the Jeff Bezos-led space company Blue Origin, aims to eventually automate rocket-making on Mars.
Relativity has picked up steam recently landing a contract with Lockheed Martin to build 3D projectiles for an experimental NASA mission to test cryogenic fluid management capabilities, key to establishing a sustainable presence on the moon and sending crewed missions to Mars. And in June it struck a deal with the U.S. Air Force's 30th Space Wing to develop rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Last year the company closed a $140 million Series C round led by Bond and Tribe Capital in October. Relativity is also backed by investors Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital, and Mark Cuban.
Those funds helped build a new headquarters in Long Beach where the company is likely to expand the development of the Terran 1. It comes months after co-founder Jordan Noone resigned as chief technology officer and became an executive advisor in what he said was preparation for starting another venture.
Editor's note: dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff is an investor in Relativity Space.
When Perseverance arrives on Mars early next year, it will be the first landfall for a rover carrying 3D-printed metal parts and a small victory for proponents of the technique in the high-cost, high-risk world of the U.S. aerospace program.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, nestled in the foothills of La Cañada Flintridge, has seen a slow cultural shift over the last decade toward the adoption of 3D printing techniques, more formally known as "additive manufacturing," in spacecraft design. The technology uses lasers to melt metal powder that is layered to precise computer modeling, until that metal takes the shape of whatever engineers need.
For years, 3D printing has been relegated to the realm of nerdy hobbyists, but its adoption by startups and big business has helped push NASA leaders toward accepting more innovation despite the risks. These days, 3D printing has been used on airplane engines, houses, hearing aids, chocolates, Tesla car components and even a pair of Adidas shoes.
"I have seen a 3D printed burrito, and it didn't look as delicious as Chipotle," said Scott Roberts, a JPL materials technologist, with a laugh.
Relativity Space co-founder and CTO Jordan Noone announced on Twitter Wednesday that he began a transition to the role of executive advisor earlier this week "in preparation for starting my next venture."
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