Relativity Space’s 3D-printed rocket will help send satellites to more zones in orbit through a new agreement announced Wednesday (Sept. 11) with Momentus.
A Terran 1 rocket launch for 2021 will launch Momentus customers to space, and then Momentus’ “shuttle service” will boost the satellites into various orbits to perform their missions.
If one imagines a rocket like the main city bus that gets passengers to a station near their destination, the Momentus platform is similar to the feeder lines that brings passengers within reach of their doorstep. Momentus will give small and medium satellites, which can’t carry a lot of fuel on board, flexibility to reach many more types of orbits than a ride on Terran 1 alone would provide.
For space customers, the Relativity-Momentus agreement will be able to put satellites in lunar orbits, towards deep space, or in various Earth orbits suited for surveillance, weather forecasting or communications. The two companies have agreed to one launch, with options for up to five more. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Both companies, veterans of the Y Combinator accelerator program, have had a very active 2019. Momentus recently announced $25.5 million in Series A financing, increasing their total funding through the company’s history to $34 million. The company has created a new kind of proprietary plasma propulsion that aims to reduce the cost of space transportation.
Meanwhile, Relativity Space (a beneficiary of roughly $45 million in venture funding over the years) said earlier this year it would take over an existing 220,000 square foot space at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. It has announced multiple new customers in the past few months and plans its first test launch in 2020.
Relativity plans to decrease launch costs through using a combination of 3D-printing, machine learning, software and robotics in its manufacturing process. The company plans to create and launch rockets in 60 days, shaving down a process that often takes months or years.