Thai satellite to launch on 3D-printed rocket from Cape Canaveral

Relativity Space signs second international deal to launch in 2022

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

Mu Space CEO James Yenbamroong, left, and Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis in front of Relativity’s Stargate 3D printer in California. (Image: Relativity Space)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The manifest for a 3D-printed rocket soon to be blasting off from the Space Coast continues to grow with the announcement Tuesday that a Thailand-based space company has selected Relativity Space's Terran 1 rocket to launch its satellite.

Based in California, Relativity Space has patented 3D printing to build its rocket in less than 60 days, cutting down hardware parts and costs to launch. The company's rocket will launch from from Cape Canaveral Air Station's Launch Complex 16, beginning at the end of 2020, company leaders say. 

Relativity CEO Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, a former SpaceX development engineer, founded the company in 2015 with the end goal of 3D printing rockets on Mars.

On April 5, the aerospace startup aiming to disrupt the way rockets are built announced its first official launch contract with the Canadian satellite operator Telesat. On Tuesday, Asian space technology company mu Space announced it also will fly a satellite on Terran 1.

To celebrate the announcement, an LED light show on the Pearl building in Bangkok displayed a 3D printed rocket, along with astronauts waving Thai and American flags and the Relativity and mu Space logos.

Mu Space is developing both Low Earth Orbit and and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellites to fuel smart cities through the company's Internet of Things devices. The company also makes a wearable tech, including a 360-degree security camera that could be worn by law enforcement officers, active duty military and security.

The mu Space satellite, launching sometime in 2022, will support space situational awareness of in-orbit debris, and the company's broader Internet of Things strategy.

Like Relativity Space, mu Space leaders have interplanetary goals. Company officials have said they want to colonize the moon with 100 people in the next 10 years.

Artist renderings of Relativity Space's launch site at Cape Canaveral. The California-based space startup entered a 20-year lease agreement with the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing for Launch Complex 16. (Image: Relativity Space)

In January, mu Space announced it plans to participate in the Moon Race, a global competition backed by Airbus, Blue Origin and the European Space Agency, designed to develop technology for sustainable lunar explorations. Mu Space CEO and founder James Yenbamroong said the company wants to land a spacecraft on the moon by 2028.

“Mu Space is accelerating space technology development in Asia, and we consider the moon as the next explorable body in space beyond Earth,” Yenbamroong said.

“Relativity has the vision, team, and technology to deliver exceptional advantages in launching mu Space's payloads, and supporting our goal of creating an interplanetary society in the future.”

The satellite will launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022 as the primary payload into Low Earth Orbit.

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