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Relativity Space raises astronomical amount of $500 million for 3D printed rockets idea

Relativity Space, which is said to be the first company to 3D print an entire rocket and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world, has raised $500 million Series D equity funding.

The investment round was led by Tiger Global Management with participation from new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Baillie Gifford, Iconiq Capital, General Catalyst, XN, Senator Investment Group, and Elad Gil.

Existing investors participating in the round include Bond, Tribe Capital, K5 Global, 3L, Playground Global, Mark Cuban, Spencer Rascoff, and Allen & Company, among others.

The Series D equity funding validates Relativity’s sector-leading momentum across commercial execution, technical milestones, and talent growth.

The funding will enable Relativity to accelerate its planned initiatives, including its factory of the future, launch vehicle development, and 3D printing technologies as it builds toward humanity’s multi-planetary future.

Tim Ellis, Relativity’s co-founder and CEO, says: “This past year drove change in every industry, including aerospace. Throughout 2020, Relativity achieved unprecedented growth, attracted top talent, and stepped up to deliver results we could have only imagined when we started the company less than five years ago.

“We are on track to launch our first Terran 1 rocket to orbit next year with existing capital on our balance sheet. With this new Series D funding, we will now dramatically accelerate the development of our long-term plans and look beyond first launch.”

Disrupting 60 years of aerospace, Relativity’s radically simplified supply chain enables the company to build its orbital rocket, Terran 1, with 100x fewer parts in less than 60 days.

By fusing 3D printing, artificial intelligence, proprietary software, and autonomous robotics, Relativity’s team is creating an entirely new value chain for aerospace, starting with orbital launch.

Over the past year, the company achieved pioneering milestones including:

  • First public US Government mission via Lockheed Martin’s selection of Relativity to launch a cryogenic fluid management mission as part of its NASA Tipping Point contract
  • Announced Iridium as Relativity’s fifth commercial launch customer, with a contract to deliver up to six Iridium NEXT constellation ground spares on dedicated launches to LEO
  • New, expanded customer contracts with Spaceflight Industries, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, to launch Spaceflight’s dedicated smallsat rideshares and Momentus, the provider of in-space last mile delivery services, to launch their small and medium satellite customers to GEO, MEO, low inclination, and multi-insertion orbits; these add to existing launch contracts with Telesat, the renowned global satellite operator, to support their LEO constellation and mu Space, the innovative Thai satellite and space technology company, to launch their first LEO satellite
  • Commenced the flight prints and began production of the first Terran 1 orbital rocket, on track for launch next year from Cape Canaveral
  • Developed, commissioned, and operated Relativity’s third generation Stargate printers, the world’s largest metal 3D printers, with uninterrupted and safe operation through the COVID pandemic
  • Upgraded the Terran 1 rocket payload fairing to 3 meters, increasing available payload volume by 2x the previous design, and upgraded the Aeon 1 engine from 17,000 to 23,000 pounds of thrust in a high performance liquid methane and liquid oxygen gas generator engine cycle
  • Successfully completed a fully printed Aeon 1 rocket engine Mission Duty Cycle (MDC) test for 186 seconds of the 23,000 pound thrust engine, the full duration required for the launch of its Terran 1 first stage rocket. This followed the first integrated engine testing by just 56 days, a tremendous accomplishment validating Relativity’s rapid iteration and software-driven 3D printing approach. The company has now completed over 400 hotfire tests
  • A new 120,000 sq ft Long Beach, California headquarters, the foundation for the company’s factory of the future and development activities, alongside expanded locations at NASA Stennis Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  • A landmark Right of Entry with the US Air Force’s 30th Space Wing for development of a rocket launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This site, along with receipt of Relativity’s Site License at Cape Canaveral LC-16, provide bi-coastal launch capabilities and offer Relativity’s customers access to a complete range of orbital inclinations
  • Team expansion to more than 230 employees with unrivaled talent; included recent executive leadership hires Muhammad Shahzad (Chief Financial Officer), Zach Dunn (SVP Engineering & Manufacturing), Caryn Schenewerk (VP Regulatory & Government Affairs), and Karin Kuo (VP People). The company’s presence now reaches across the nation including its Los Angeles area headquarters and factory, Mississippi test site, Florida launch site, California launch site, Seattle development office, and Washington DC government affairs office

Relativity is well on its way to launching the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket to orbit, only the first step in a long-term vision to upgrade humanity’s industrial base on Earth and build one on Mars.

Ellis says: “Aerospace still relies on the same fundamental toolset it did 60 years ago when rockets were first launched to the Moon and global aviation was in full swing: giant factories full of fixed tooling, with complex supply chains and hundreds of thousands to millions of individual parts assembled one at a time by hand, using hundreds of diverse manufacturing processes.

“What we are building at Relativity fundamentally rewrites that tech stack. At its heart, 3D printing is an automation technology, one that transforms physical complexity into software by stitching many components together.

“The compounding rate of improvement and iteration possible through our disruptive approach will be unlike anything seen before. If we are going to live on Mars, it is inevitable that this factory of the future must exist to build humanity’s industrial base once there.

“At Relativity, we look forward to furthering an iconic new technology to build the future of humanity in space, faster.”

In connection with the Series D financing, Allen & Company served as Relativity Space’s financial advisor, and Fenwick & West served as Relativity Space’s legal advisor.

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