Relativity Space raises $650 million to build 3 D-printed rockets

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Relativity Space raises $650 million to build 3 D-printed rockets

Relativity Space raised $650 million in Series E equity financing as the aerospace company looks to take over Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin with the first 3 D-printed rockets.

A private investor led the funding round with participation from investors including Daneez Mavericks owner Spencer Rascoff, co-founder and former Zillow Group CEO Mark Cuban, BlackRock, Centricus, Coatue and Soroban Capital.

The external capital brings the company's estimated value to approximately $4.2 billion, and the second most valuable private equity space company behind SpaceX with total funding of $1.3 billion to date.

The funds will go towards developing the company's Terran R program and long-term infrastructure. Terran R will be developed by the same 3 D printers and the team of Terran 1, which is now 85% complete and will launch later this year from the company's launch site in Cape Canaveral.

Terran R is a two stage, 216 foot-tall, 100% reusable rocket with a 16 foot diameter and 5-metre payload fairing. Relativity Space says the rocket will be capable of launching 44,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit starting in 2024. The rocket is equipped with seven three-D Aeon R rocket engines capable of 302,000 pounds of thrust each, while its upper stage houses one Aeon 1 vac engine.

The Long Beach, California company, can crank out a typical rocket in just under 60 days with 100 fewer parts than the full rocket.

According to CEO Tim Ellis, the mission of Relativity is to build humanity's industrial base on Mars.

We were inspired to make this vision a reality and believe there are between 10s and hundreds of companies working on Mars, said Ellis in a statement. Scalable, autonomous 3 D printing is inevitably required to thrive on Mars and Terran R is the second product step in a long-term journey Relativity is planning ahead.

Relativity Space is planning to offer a point-to-point space cargoer capable of future missions between Earth, Moon and Mars and has recently concluded contracts with travel technology company TriSept, the US Department of Defense and NASA. The company has over 400 employees and plans to hire 200 additional staff members this year.

Mark announced earlier this week that he and his brother Jeff Bezos will join one lucky auction winner on Blue Origin's first crewed flight scheduled for July 20. They will fill three of the six seats on the first crewed suborbital flight of New Shepard and travel to an altitude of five flights.

The spacecraft — named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard — has already completed 15 successful consecutive missions to space above the K rmn line, which is an imaginary boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space, according to Blue Origin.

Blue Origin's three-phase online auction started last month and bidding will conclude on June 12. The winning offer amount will be donated to Blue Origin's Foundation, Club for the Future, to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space. The highest bid is $3.5 million Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell previously stated that the first space flight of the Starship could take place as late as this year or as early as March 2022. In a Federal Communications Commission filing last month, SpaceX confirmed that the flight will originate from the company's Boca Chica, Texas, facilities and will take about 90 minutes.

The booster stage will land around three minutes into flight and break into the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 20 miles away from the shore. The starship then sailed between the Florida Straights and reached the orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 62 miles of the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing, the filing says. The maximum altitude measured by the starship is expected to be around 72 miles.

Last month, SpaceX drew its fifth test flight. During the six minute flight of the uncrewed satellite SN-15, the spacecraft held vertically upwards, completed a belly flip maneuver and finally returned before landing.

Relativity Space will also face competition from billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which held its first crewed mission of its VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo spacecraft from New Mexico's Spaceport America last month.

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