Relativity Space, a company best known for its autonomous rocket factory and 3D printed rocket engines, has closed a Series C funding round worth $140 million. The funding round, which was led by Bond and Tribe Capital, will enable Relativity Space to advance towards its goal of becoming the world’s first company to launch an entirely 3D printed rocket into orbit for commercial service. The launch is planned for early 2021.
The Series C funding round brought on a number of interesting backers for the aerospace company, including investors Lee Fixel, Michael Ovitz and Spencer Rascoff, investment platform Republic Labs and celebrity Jared Leto (of 30 Seconds to Mars). Existing investors, including Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital and Mark Cuban also participated in the funding round.
“Relativity was founded with the long term vision of 3D printing the first rocket made on Mars and expanding the possibilities for human experience in our lifetime,” said Tim Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Relativity Space. “With the close of our Series C funding, we are now one step closer to that vision by being fully funded to launch Terran 1 to orbit as the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket. Bond and Tribe are unrivalled partners in leading this funding round, and we are excited to build this important future together with our entire team.”
Relativity has been on a path to success since its founding in 2015. In March 2018, the company closed a Series B funding round worth $35 million which enabled it to attain a number of milestones in its product development and collaborations. Its current roadmap is aiming to launch commercial service for its 3D printed rockets in 2021. Eventually, as Ellis said, the company’s goal is to 3D print rockets on Mars (presumably why Jared Leto was so interested!).
With its Stargate factory—a massive metal 3D printer—Relativity is pioneering a new era in space exploration and launch rocket vehicles. The factory system, which integrates machine learning, software, robotics and metal 3D printing, is capable of building launch-ready rockets with a payload capacity of up to 1250 kg in under 60 days. The company’s main product, the Terran 1 rocket, has undergone some recent improvements including a 3-meter payload fairing with twice the volume.
“We are excited to complete the development of Terran 1, providing an entirely new value chain for our customers,” added Jordan Noone, Co-Founder and CTO of Relativity Space. “As we build Terran 1 we will continue to expand the Stargate factory, achieving another milestone towards our long term vision.”
Throughout the development of its Stargate factory, Relativity has succeeded in expanding its production capacity by four times (while also improving scalability, adaptability and other factors). Other notable accomplishments for the company include a series of partnerships with the U.S. government, including a 20-year exclusive-use agreement with the U.S. Air Force for five NASA test sites and a 20-year lease for a 220,000-square-foot factory at the NASA Stennis Space Center.
“We’re thrilled to invest behind Relativity’s world class team, and join a broader group of investors, customers, and government partners that share our enthusiasm for the company’s bold vision to reimagine rocket development,” said Noah Knauf, Co-Founder and General Partner at Bond. “We believe the Stargate factory is a template for the future of aerospace manufacturing and provides Relativity’s commercial customers, and eventually humanity, a faster, more reliable, and lower cost way to shuttle important resources from earth to outer space.”
“Accelerating speed in the design, manufacture and delivery of rockets will become the Moore’s Law of space travel and exploration. By optimizing manufacturing for speed, Relativity will increase the frequency of launches in service of growing commercial and consumer needs in space,” added Arjun Sethi, Co-Founder and General Partner at Tribe Capital. “Just as doubling microprocessor speeds enabled the personal computing revolution, Relativity will push forward an entire ecosystem of hardware and software systems to take humanity beyond Earth’s orbit.”