Tech Crunch reports on a $59 million expansion to NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi, which is right on the border of Louisiana. Los Angeles-based 3D printed spacecraft manufacturer Relativity Space is responsible.
Relativity Space aims to build a permanent 3D printing rocket manufacturing hub at this location, so they’ve teamed up with NASA. Stennis Space Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech explains: “this agreement demonstrates again NASA’s commitment to work with our industry partners to expand commercial access to low Earth orbit. This helps NASA maintain focus on the ambitious Artemis program, which will land the first female and the next male on the south pole of the Moon by 2024.”
Already, Relativity Space has four of its ‘proprietary’ 3D printers running at its Los Angeles headquarters. The company “plans to build out 12 larger units in Mississippi.” Ultimately, “they expect to get 24 3D printers up and running in total.”
“Unlike other rocket manufacturers, Relativity uses 3D printers for almost all of the components it needs to assemble a spacecraft. The company says its technology significantly reduces the time it takes to manufacture a vehicle for space travel and the cost associated with that manufacturing.”
Now, Relativity Space will have 220,00 sq. ft. “at its disposal to install second-generation printers, larger than those initial designs it has running in LA.” For now, Relativity Space “will be focused on the construction of its own Terran1 rocket design and has signed up three customers already.” These customers include Spaceflight Industries, Telesat, and Mu Space.
Relativity Space’s Vice President of Operations Tobias Duschl elaborates: “we now have this benefit of being collocated with a testing facility. We can easily move components back and forth from production to testing. It’s going to be a huge benefit for our customers.”
The company’s agreement with NASA “includes a nine-year lease on the 220,000 square foot building at Stennis, with an option to extend the lease for an additional 10 years after that.”
Relativity Space’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Tim Ellis concludes: “we are investing not just a new rocket, but an entirely new way of production, with our large, mass-scale, 3D-printing factory. The exact same factory we built for the rockets is already applicable to other things. It’s highly automated (due to 3D printing), which reduces part counts, and simplifies the supply chain…and there’s no fixed tooling. The 3D printers can make similar structures for other industries.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch