3D printing rocket startup Relativity Space raises US$650 million in Series E financing
3D Printing rocket startup Relativity Space has raised US$650 million in Series E financing, bringing its total funding to more than US$1.2 billion. After the E round of financing, Relativity is currently valued at $4.2 billion. This round of financing was led by Fidelity Management Research. New investors from BlackRock, Centricus, Coatue and Soroban Capital participated. Existing investors Baillie Gifford, K5 Global, Tiger Global, Tribe Capital, XN, Brad Buss, Mark Cuban, Jared Leto and Spencer Rascoff participated
Funds from the E round of financing will be used to accelerate the production of Terran R, the company’s heavy-duty, fully reusable two-stage rocket. Terran R, together with Relativity’s first rocket Terran 1, will make its first orbital flight at the end of 2021. The company has been secretive about Terran R’s situation, but now it has released further details while announcing the financing. As expected, Terran 1 and Terran R are quite different: the former is consumable, the latter is reusable; the former is designed for small payloads, and the latter is designed for large payloads of. Even Terran R’s payload fairing is reusable, and Relativity has designed a system to make it easier to recover and recycle. The Terran R rocket will be 216 feet tall, have a maximum payload of 20,000 pounds, and enter low Earth orbit. For comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is about 230 feet tall and has a maximum payload of 22,800 pounds to low Earth orbit. Terran R will use seven new Aeon R engines on the first stage, each capable of providing 302,000 pounds of thrust. The 3D printers that produce Terran R engines and rockets are currently also producing nine Aeon 1 engines that power Terran 1, which means Relativity does not have to significantly reconfigure its production lines to manufacture new launch vehicles.
It is estimated that a Terran R will take about 60 days to build. This is an incredible speed for a rocket with this payload capability. Although Terran 1 has not yet been launched, Relativity has not shown signs of slowing down the development of Terran R. The company will also launch Terran R from the launch site at Cape Canaveral as early as 2024 and sign the first customer for the new rocket. The Terran 1 rocket will make its first orbital flight at the end of this year. Terran 1 performing this mission will not carry any payload. The second launch of Terran 1 is scheduled to take place in June next year and will carry the CubeSat to low-Earth orbit. This mission is part of NASA’s risk-level launch service demonstration 2 contract.
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