Relativity Space will print rockets for $ 10 million
– News of June 9, 2019 –
Relativity Space is one of the companies developing rockets for Smallsats. Their launcher is called Terran 1. It is a little more imposing than the average launchers. It must be able to place up to a ton of low orbit. The propulsion uses methane with nine engines on the first stage and one engine on the second stage. What sets Relativity Space apart from other companies is their manufacturing processes. The company says it will be able to move from raw materials to the launch pad in just 60 days.
To achieve this, everything is simplified to the extreme. Each engine of the launcher consists of only 100 pieces, while the industry standards are around 2500 items. Relativity Space also uses additive manufacturing for a large part of its components. In the premises of the company is located one of the largest 3D printers in the world, called Stargate. It has three big arms and works from a metal alloy specially developed by the company.
Automation and simplification should allow Terran 1 to take off for only $ 10 million, which is barely more expensive than a Rocket Lab Electron rocket, for a capacity four times larger. So far, Relativity Space has set its first orbital flight at the end of 2020. Commercial operations are expected to start the following year. It is not easy to know if these innovations will be enough to stand out from the dozens of competitors being designed.
Relativity Space wants to print whole rockets
– News of December 12, 2017 –
3D printing has become in recent years a key technology for the space sector. Many companies use them to make complex parts without expensive machining processes, which can drive down prices. In 2014, SpaceX for the first time flew a Falcon 9 rocket with a 3D printed oxidation valve. Arianespace is working on the Prometheus engine, whose the company hopes to lower the cost by ten, including through 3D printing.
Relativity Space is an american company created at the end of 2015. Its goal is to use 3D printing to print an entire 3D launcher : the engine, the tank and the fuselage. Relativity Space wants to lower the cost of rockets : from 5% to 10% of the cost of a launcher comes from raw materials, the rest comes from the highly skilled and therefore very expensive workforce. By replacing humans with machines, Relativity Space believes it can bring down costs and therefore prices very aggressively. To achieve this, Relativity Space has developed a homemade metal alloy and assembled the world’s largest 3D metal printer.
The american company must now implement all the manufacturing processes. But the two creators of Relativity Space have experience : one of them worked on 3D printing within Blue Origin, while the other worked in the SpaceX engine division. Relativity Space has started its engine search process, called Aeon 1. This engine burns methane and liquid oxygen and is designed to deliver thrust of almost 7 tons. Despite the company’s youthfulness, the Aeon 1 engine has already been tested at the NASA Research Center in Mississippi. The first rocket of Relativity Space should be called Terran. The first stage of the rocket will be equipped with nine Aeon 1 engines, the second stage will have only one, which looks like what SpaceX does. Terran will be able to place 1250 kg of payload in low orbit.
Relativity Space has raised $ 10 million in its first round of fundraising and hopes to launch its rocket in 2021. Relativity Space is recruiting a lot and hopes to have about 50 employees by the end of 2018. The team is made up of veterans of New Space companies and 3D printing professionals. The company has set itself a goal : to print the first rocket on the surface of the planet Mars.