Ahead of its first rocket launch next year, Relativity Space is moving into new, bigger digs in Long Beach, California where it will build the first fully 3D printed rockets to launch from Cape Canaveral.
Bursting at the seams at its current industrial headquarters not far from the Los Angeles International Airport the new sprawling 120,000-square-foot space in Long Beach will allow the five-year-old company to really spread out and begin assembling its Terran 1 rockets.
Terran means of this Earth because the rockets are 3D printed with materials found on our planet. Using its robotic 3D printer, called Stargate, Relativity is able to make rockets faster and using fewer parts. A Terran 1 starts at $10 million and can be ready to launch in under two months, according to the company.
"With no fixed tooling, Relativity has enabled a massive part count reduction, increased iteration speed and created an entirely new value chain,” Relativity Space CEO and co-founder Tim Ellis. “I’m confident our autonomous factory will become the future technology stack for the entire aerospace industry.”
Relativity Space started with a team of two, Ellis and Chief Technology Officer Jordan Noone, and has grown to nearly 150 employees across three states between its headquarters in California, testing and printing facilities at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and launch facilities in Cape Canaveral.
The company signed a 20-year lease last spring with the U.S. Air Force for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 16 where it’s building out the launch site for the first maiden flight of Terran 1 sometime next year.
The historic launch pad previously hosted Apollo and Gemini mission testing, as well as Titan and Pershing missile launches.
Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Jordan Noone said the new headquarters in Long Beach will allow the growing team to begin building the first few Terran 1 rockets to launch from Cape Canaveral.
“With moving into this building, we will be starting to build the first flight vehicle this year, and flying it next year,” Noone said. “This will be the facility where flight one gets built which is exciting for everyone in the company. We have the space to do it now.”
The Long Beach headquarters will allow for a full robotic production line to build the Aeon rocket engines and the Terran 1 rockets, as well as business offices and room to grow.
The factory-line is the predecessor of what Relativity’s founders hope to replicate on Mars. Eventually, the company wants to 3D print rockets on the red planet with Martian materials using artificial intelligence learning printers.
Relativity joins a growing number of space companies and startups moving to the beachside area outside of Los Angeles, including Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Boeing.
"The space economy continues its growth in Long Beach with the addition of Relatively,” Long Beach Mayor, Dr. Robert Garcia said. “3D printing is groundbreaking for new jobs and new technologies in the space sector.”
For Relativity, they selected the building based on some unique qualifications the company needs for its massive 3D printers. The printers can be placed on platforms that move up and down as they print out rocket parts.
“We’re very driven by ceiling height of the company due to the printing tech and the amount that we do vertically,” Noone said of the 36-foot-tall ceilings.
The official move-in date to the Long Beach headquarters will happen sometime in May or June, Noone said.