Though they’re yet to bag a single contract, customers have started queuing up for Relativity Space, a rocket-based startup.
The company whose mission is to send small satellites to space reported that Spaceflight had purchased six launches already. This was the third major announcement in the past five weeks.
CEO of Relativity, Tim Ellis reported that people were excited about Relativity’s innovative idea of manufacturing rockets completely based on 3D printing technology. The company was founded just three years ago.
CNN Business was told by Ellis that people were rallying around 3D technology as the next big thing. Relativity was able to customize rocket plans as per the requirements due to 3D technology.
Mark Cuban and Y Combinator are among its investors. It has attracted staff from rivals Blue Origin and SpaceX, growing from a staff of 14 to 85 now. Ellis himself is an ex-employee of Blue Origin.
Mark Cuban seemed excited over it, since they had signed contracts. Launches would increase the momentum, he said.
Although a difficult industry to break into, Relativity aims to cater to small satellite companies. There are over 100 companies operating in that niche and not all are expected to survive. Only Rocket Lab from this pile has managed to launch an actual rocket to the Earth’s orbit.
Laura Forczyk, the founder of Astralytical, is certain of Relativity’s bright future since they have managed to gain contracts. Virgin Orbit, owned by Richard Branson and Vector, an Arizona-based company has secured contracts as well.
Forczyk noted that usage of 3D technology sounded impressive to investors, which made Relativity stand out from the competition.
Although companies like SpaceX and AJRD use additive manufacturing in its rockets, Relativity will develop its own technology to print in 3D and manufacture components.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s Stennis Space Center have signed contracts with Relativity. This could become an opportunity to bag government contracts later.
The company’s first rocket, Terran 1 is bigger than Rocket Lab’s machine but smaller than the massive Falcon 9 of SpaceX. It can send a satellite weighing a Mini Cooper’s weight, providing a lot of space for small satellites.
Forczyk remains skeptical though. She says it’s important to wait for actual operations and hardware testing as that is where the real deal lies, which is yet to come from Relativity.