Last March, Nasa announced it would give the venture-backed rocket startup Relativity Space access to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to use as its testing facility… free of charge.
Now, the 3D printing rocket company has won permission from the Air Force to launch from Cape Canaveral Florida — the same storied launch base that shot Apollo 11 into orbit in ’69.
Living the space company dream
Rocket talk these days usually consists of SpaceX, Blue Origin or bust. But Relativity Space (started by ex-Blue Origin and SpaceX engineers) and its unique business model have orbited investor attention.
While SpaceX views reusability as the key to lowering costs of space access, Relativity relies on automated 3-D printing to simplify manufacturing time and cost of parts.
Now, after Relativity raised $45m from VCs, the US Air Force has awarded the company a multi-year contract to build and operate its launch facilities at Cape Canaveral — the organization’s first direct agreement with a privately funded launch company.
The real work begins
Relativity hopes to launch into low-orbit by 2020, and according to CEO Tim Ellis, the company already has over $1B in launches scheduled.
But, as Axios reports, it has yet to launch its rocket into space, putting it years behind companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin that call Cape Canaveral launch-home.
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