Relativity Space reveals plan for 3-D printed rockets

Relativity Space factory
Relativity Space’s Stargate 3-D printer is at work at the company’s Los Angeles factory, with a 3-D printed fuel tank sitting at left. (Relativity Space Photo)

Can a robotic 3-D printer spit out all the parts of a rocket without humans stepping in until the end? Relativity Space says that’s what it’s working toward.

The company, which has its roots in the Seattle area and is now headquartered in Los Angeles, stepped out of the shadows today with a website that shows off its technology. Two of its founders, CEO Tim Ellis and chief technology officer Jordan Noone, are veterans of Blue Origin, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture.

Ellis provided hints of what Relativity Space was up to during a congressional hearing in July, but the updated website lays out the plan in much more detail. An on-the-scene report from Bloomberg News provides additional color.

Relativity’s aim is to reduce the cost of launch vehicles dramatically by streamlining the manufacturing process. It says its fully 3-D printed rockets will have only 1,000 parts, compared to the 100,000 or more moving parts that a traditional rocket contains.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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