Relativity announces 3D-printed, reusable Terran R rocket

Relativity announces 3D-printed, reusable Terran R rocketThe Long Beach-based company describes it as a two-stage, 216-foot-tall rocket with a 16-foot diameter, and a 5-meter payload fairing

Terran R will be designed to be entirely reusable and capable of launching 20,000 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO).

3D printing

The company’s proprietary 3D printing process, it says, uses “software-driven manufacturing, exotic materials and unique design geometries that are not possible in traditional manufacturing”.

“From our founding days in Y Combinator just five years ago, we planned on 3D printing Terran 1 and then Terran R – a 20X larger fully reusable rocket – on our Factory of the Future platform,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Relativity. “Today we are one step closer to this goal. Together with our first rocket Terran 1, our second product, Terran R, will continue to take advantage of Relativity’s disruptive approach to 3D printing – reduced part count, improved speed of innovation, flexibility, and reliability – to bring to market the next generation of launch vehicles.

“Relativity was founded with the mission to 3D print entire rockets and build humanity’s industrial base on Mars. We were inspired to make this vision a reality, and believe there needs to be dozens to hundreds of companies working to build humanity’s multiplanetary future on Mars. Scalable, autonomous 3D 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.”

Terran R will be outfitted with seven 3D-printed Aeon R rocket engines capable of 302,000 lb. thrust each, while its upper stage houses one Aeon Vac engine.

Starting in 2024, Terran R will launch from Launch Complex 16, the company’s site at Cape Canaveral, where the original version, 1, is also set to launch this year.

It was developed to meet growing demand for large constellation launch services, and Relativity says it has signed its first anchor customer launch contract for the “R” vehicle.

Previously, it has secured nine launch contracts from both private and government customers, including a newly announced U.S. Department of Defense contract, facilitated by the Defense Innovation Unit, a Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract with NASA and an on-demand satellite launch contract with Iridium.

Funding

The company has also closed a $650 million Series E equity funding round.

It was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC with participation from investors including Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Centricus, Coatue, K5 Global, Soroban Capital, Tiger Global, Tribe Capital, XN, Brad Buss, Mark Cuban, Jared Leto, and Spencer Rascoff.

The latest round of funding, says Relativity, “enables the scaling of the Terran R program and long-term infrastructure development”.

See also: Scottish Orbex 3D-prints space rocket engines in-house