Relativity Space is in the business of manufacturing technologies to create space equipment and rockets that are completely made from 3D printing. Recently they’ve signed a new paying customer, Momentus – an orbital transportation service.
What This new Partnership Means
As part of this deal, Relativity’s Terran One rocket is going to carry Momentus’ satellites on them as they’re moved into geosynchronous orbit thanks to their creation of a shuttle technology for in space. According to this deal, the first launch will occur in 2021 and there will be an option for an additional 5 launches.
This will work out well for Relativity because they’ll be able to include a larger variety when it comes to various orbits, one of which will be the geostationary transfer orbit. Others will include deep space and lunar orbits. There will also be lower inclinations and the phasing of various spacecraft in Earth’s lower orbit.
How This Partnership Came About
Momentus and Relativity are both alumni of Y Combinator’s space-focused program. While Relativity graduated in 2016, Momentus graduated in 2018. In July 2019 Momentus signed off on $25 million in funding that moved them from merely acting as a thruster for small satellites that are already in existence to being able to offer full-service orbital transportation. This is a company that originally got its start by developing a plasma propulsion system based on water that will provide an inexpensive transportation service through outer space – something that’s known for powering their Vigoride orbital shuttle.
On the other hand, Relativity has their own technology they’re in the process of developing. Currently they’re printing and stress testing second stage structures and is in the process of beginning to print larger, primary stage structures. Their goal is to eventually build a rocket which will be completely built and ready to enter outer space in under 60 days. They’d like it to have a 1250 kg payload capacity. The initial test launch for this will be in 2020. To date they’ve already performed 200 engine tests with 14 different serial numbers. They’ve also started conducting turbo pump testing. Company cofounder, Tim Ellis says they’re also testing their avionics hardware.
What This Means…
Momentus is known to create solutions for sustainable, last mile in space issues. They want to work with Relativity and their Terran one which is flexible enough to offer bigger opportunities for satellite launches having improved lead time and more flexibility all at a lower price. With this partnership space economy will be built faster and humanity’s future in space will be accelerated. Of course, this means that they’ve already dramatically expanded their production, launch, and testing facilities so they now include 280,000 sq. ft. of operation space in Cape Canaveral Florida and the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
In addition to their agreement with Momentus, Relativity has an agreement with Telesat. Here they’ll be supporting the company’s low Earth orbit constellation. They’re also working with mu Space in the spaceflight industry where they hope to launch a small ride sharing service.
Picture Credit: Momentus–Fervoride