AEROSPACE APPLICATION

Relativity Space raises $500 million to scale-up 3D Printed Rocket Production

3D printed rocket
Above: The funding will help Relativity Space accelerate the developments/Image Source: Relativity Space

Relativity Space, the privately funded aerospace manufacturer, announced the raising of a new $500 million Series D funding round at a valuation above $2 billion from top tier blue chip investors. The funding will help the company to accelerate the 3D printed rocket production.

This new round makes Relativity Space the second-most valuable private space company in the world after SpaceX, according to Pitchbook (not considering Blue Origin, which is solely funded by Jeff Bezos).

The funding round was led by Tiger Global Management and joined by new investors ICONIQ Capital, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, XN Capital, General Catalyst, Elad Gil, and Senator Investment Group. In addition to this, the existing shareholders Mark Cuban, Bond Capital, 3L Capital, Tribe Capital, Playground Global, K5 Global, Allen & Company, and Spencer Rascoff also participated in the round.

Speaking to CNBC, Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis said, “Relativity Space wants to use enormous 3D printers to revolutionize the way rockets are built – and now we have a “war chest” of capital to do so.”

He added, “This (funding) really accelerates Relativity’s momentum and scaling as we focus beyond first launch on production and various infrastructure expansion projects. Other exciting new initiatives are underway – which we can discuss further next year – with this capital … but we’re not in the business of taking smaller swings in terms of where we think the technology can go.”

3D Printed Rocket Production

3D printed rocket
Above: 3D printed rockets are manufactured in some of the world’s largest 3D printers/Image Source: Relativity Space

The first milestone of Relativity Space is to build Terran 1 rocket which has 95% 3D printed parts. All the parts were made in some of the world’s largest 3D printers developed in-house. The 3D printed rockets simplify the manufacturing process. It also quickens the pace of building and/or modifying compared to traditional rockets. Going forward the company envisages that their 3D printers will be capable to turn raw materials into a rocket on the Launchpad in under 60 days.

Right now, the Terran 1 is priced at $12 million per launch and is designed to carry 1,250 kilograms to low Earth orbit. That puts Terran 1 in the middle of the U.S. launch market, in between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in both price and capability.

Commenting on the funding, Ellis said, “The company was “not initially planning to raise” new capital right now. Relativity still has the majority of its funding from the $140 million it raised in October 2019, which funded the company’s Terran 1 rocket development through its first launch”. 

However,  Ellis realized Relativity could bring new funding that will allow the company to “sink our teeth in and accelerate” the work it’s begun.

Ellis mentioned, “It (funding) lets us put our heads down and execute and not have to worry about some of the overhead of being a public company today,” Ellis said. “We achieved that handily and are really humbled by the level of interest from these world class investors.”

Relativity Space is rapidly developing its capabilities and now has more than 230 employees.


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