One of the lesser known aspects of SpaceX’s rise to the top of the space industry is how the company has seeded other companies with experienced personnel.
Throughout its existence, SpaceX has had fairly high employee turnover. People work at Elon Musk’s company and move on for reasons ranging from being fired or laid off to getting burned out from long hours to becoming frustrated over relatively low pay to simply wanting to do something else.
Investment in commercial space companies soared to $5.7 billion in 2019 from $3.5 billion the year before, but the bulk of the funding went to a handful of companies most of which are run by billionaires, according to a new report from Bryce Space and Technology.
LOS ANGELES, February 28, 2020 (Relativity Space PR) — Relativity Space, the first company to utilize additive manufacturing and robotics to build an entire launch vehicle, today announced that it has secured a new headquarters in Long Beach, California. Located at 3500 E Burnett, Long Beach, the 120,000 sq. ft. space will house both the company’s business operations and an unprecedented manufacturing facility.
Relativity integrates machine learning, software, and robotics with metal additive manufacturing technology and will produce Terran 1, the world’s first 3D printed rocket, at the Long Beach facility.
LOS ANGELES (Relativity Space PR) — Relativity Space, the company building the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services for satellites, today announced that it has closed a $140 million Series C funding round led by Bond and Tribe Capital.
With this $140 million funding round, Relativity is fully funded to become the first company in the world to launch an entirely 3D printed rocket to orbit and enter commercial service in early 2021. The Series C round includes participation by new investors Lee Fixel, Michael Ovitz, Spencer Rascoff, Republic Labs, and Jared Leto, with participation from current investors Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital, and Mark Cuban.
LOS ANGELES (Relativity Space PR) –Relativity Space, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellites, today announced that it has signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Momentus, the provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, to launch Momentus’ small and medium satellite customers on Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first and only entirely 3D printed rocket. Momentus will then deliver their customers’ small and medium sized satellites to geosynchronous orbit (GEO) using the Momentus Vigoride Extended in-space shuttle service.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss., June 11, 2019 (Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission PR) – Aerospace company Relativity is expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The project is a $59-million corporate investment and will create 190 jobs, increasing employment at Relativity’s Stennis Space Center site to 200 workers.
“Relativity‘s announcement today solidifies Hancock County’s position as a leader in commercial space activity and further establishes our aerospace cluster as one of the strongest in the region,“ said Blaine Lafontaine, President, Hancock County Board of Supervisors.
LOS ANGELES–(Relativity PR)–Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader, today announced the appointment of three aerospace veterans to its executive team and an industry-leading new patent grant for its autonomous 3D printing technology. The fast-growing company has now hired twelve former senior leaders from SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Waymo, Zoox, and Tesla, and has secured a key patent for 3D printing metal using machine learning.
Tim Buzza, recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in rocket development, as well as among the first leaders and a twelve-year executive at SpaceX, and former Co-President and Vice President of Launch at Virgin Orbit, officially joins Relativity as Distinguished Engineer after serving as an Advisor to the company.
SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.
“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.
Relativity Space, a startup that is developing 3D printed launch vehicles, has signed a 20-year agreement to use the E4 Test Complex at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The 25-acre complex includes four large test cells rated for testing rocket engines and launch vehicles. The company, which has already tested engines at another Stennis test stand, said it will be investing money to build up the complex, which is currently not in use.
Relativity Space plans to use the site to complete development, qualification and acceptance testing of its Aeon rocket engine and Terran 1 launch vehicle.
“Terran 1 is designed from scratch for constellation deployment and resupply,” the company says on its website. “Its unique architecture can change and scale rapidly alongside satellite companies as they develop new capabilities.”
The company is using robotic additive manufacturing to reduce the cost of access to orbit. It aims to be able to manufacture and launch a rocket in less than 60 days.
The two-stage booster is designed to place up to 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) into an 185 km (115 mile) orbit or 900 kg (1,984 lb) into a 500 km (311 mile) sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). The booster will also be capable of placing a 700 kg (1,543 lb) payload into a 1,200 km (746 mile) SSO.
NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.
From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Virgin Group companies, Moon Express and NanoRacks. There is also a fourth table that has SAAs with a number of companies and organizations that we follow on Parabolic Arc.
SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)