Relativity Space, Los Angeles, California, USA, has been selected by NASA to place CubeSats into low Earth orbit as part of its Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) contract. Under this contract, Relativity states that it will demonstrate its capabilities by launching Terran 1, reported to be the first entirely additively manufactured rocket.
It is anticipated that the launch will take place by June 30, 2022, from Relativity’s orbital launch site at Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16. This agreement marks the eighth announced launch customer for Relativity and the company’s second publicly-announced US government contract, following Relativity being awarded the role of launch partner for Lockheed Martin’s NASA Tipping Point Mission.
The company explains that it is building an ‘entirely new value chain’ to integrate Additive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and autonomous robotics. This factory of the future is described as a vertically-integrated technology platform that enables Relativity to build and launch rockets in less than sixty days, with 100 times fewer parts and a simplified supply chain. Its software-defined approach reportedly creates significantly higher reliability, by introducing automation and reducing risk at every level of design, test and build.
“NASA’s efforts to expand launch options are vital for the future growth of space access,” stated Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder, Relativity Space. “We appreciate NASA’s selection of our 3D printing approach for our launch vehicle, Terran 1.”