Relativity space expansion on NASA’s Stennis for rocket engine testing

Map of the company’s plans to expand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Relative space

Relativity Space, which 3D-prints rockets, said Tuesday it has signed an agreement to expand its presence at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and establish one of the nation’s largest rocket engine test facilities.

Relativity rockets, based in Long Beach, California, are designed to be almost entirely 3D printed. The approach is less complex and faster to build or modify than traditional missiles, the company says.

Additional facilities at Stennis in Mississippi will be key to Relativity’s development of a reusable rocket called the Terran R, which is expected to debut in 2025 and compete with some of the most powerful rockets on the market, such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9, with aiming to be fully reusable.

“We look forward to writing a new story at Stennis with an incredibly large expansion of development and testing capabilities,” said Tim Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Relativity.

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Earlier this year, Relativity said it had signed contracts worth more than $1.2 billion to launch Terran R rockets.

Relativity said it will build several test beds, office buildings and a hangar for its vehicles on more than 150 acres at the NASA compound. The Agency has not used the area and is adjacent to existing rocket engine test sites. The company is already operating in Stennis, with agreements for seven engine test rigs, on which Relativity has performed more than 2,000 tests to date.

The company is testing an early version of the Aeon R rocket engine.

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The company has already begun testing versions of the Aeon R engines that will power the Terran R missiles and plans to begin full engine testing in late 2023 with expansion.

An aerial view of the company’s expansion construction in Mississippi.

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To date, Relativity has raised just over $1.3 billion in capital and employs nearly 1,000 people at locations in California, Florida, Mississippi, Washington State, and Washington, DC.

NASA Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said in a statement that the agency welcomed the “growth of this valuable partnership” and named Relativity a “respected member” among those at the center since the company arrived in early 2018.

Artistic depiction of the launch of the Terran R rocket into orbit.

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