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Relativity Space takes a high tech approach to space manufacturing

PreIPOSwap.com — 4/9/2022 – Charlotte, NC — In case you haven’t heard of Relativity Space, it’s a company that 3d prints rockets.  You heard that right, they print cones and rocket parts from a factory, run by robots and computers.  To get an idea of how this actually works, you can watch this short 2 minute video:

Relativity Space is backed by leading investors including Baillie Gifford, Blackrock, BOND, Coatue, Fidelity, General Catalyst, ICONIQ Capital, K5 Global, Mark Cuban, Playground Global, Social Capital, Tiger Global, Tribe Capital, Y Combinator, and others.  Last June 2021 they raised $650 mn to make bigger 3d rockets, according to Reuters:

Long Beach, California-based Relativity, which has grown its headcount fourfold in little over a year, promises boosters built almost entirely by colossal 3D printers that can crank out a full-scale rocket in just 60 days. Such automation is vital to human ambitions to colonize Mars, Ellis said.” 3D printing is the holy grail that will enable that future,” Ellis told Reuters ahead of the announcement.  Relativity has inked launch contracts with the U.S. Defense Department, NASA, and Iridium Communications Inc, for rides to space on its Terran 1. That rocket can blast up to 2,755 pounds (1,250 kg) into orbit for $12 million. Its inaugural launch is slated for December.

Customers include NASA, US Space Force (Department of Defense), Iridium, and others.  The 2020 Iridium relationship was announced on Tech Crunch:

Relativity Space has a new customer for its 3D-printed rockets: Established satellite maker and operator Iridium, which has picked the company for launches in 2023. To accomplish those, and other launches like them, the company is also setting up a new launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The company is worth $4.2 Billion based on it’s last funding round, and is trading in the secondary markets around that level.  Regardless of the fact that the company has optimized the manufacturing process, this is a capital intensive business and their investment rounds have proven that.  During the last investment round the company raised $650 Million USD which is still a lot of money even considering the Fed’s hyperinflation.  Relativity Space has raised a total of $1.2 Billion since inception.  The company was founded in Long Beach, CA in 2016 by Jordan Noone and Tim Ellis.  Take a look at these charts from Craft.co on funding rounds:

What’s fascinating about Relativity Space is that they have invented their own processes from the ground up.  The founders got $500 Million by cold-emailing Mark Cuban to start the company, and things went orbital from there.  Everything has been custom engineered including the 3d printing process, from Wikipedia:

In order to 3D print large components, Relativity Space has created a system named Stargate, which it claims is the world’s largest 3D printer of metals.[22][23] Stargate uses existing welding technology to melt metal wire, layer by layer, into precise and complex structures that have minimal joints and parts.[24] The company aims at 3D-printing at least 95% of their launcher, including the engines, by the end of 2020.[23][needs update] The company plans to eventually 3D-print a complete launch vehicle within 60 days.[25][7]

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