Relativity strikes deal to use NASA test complex

Relativity engine test
Relativity’s Aeon 1 engine undergoes a test firing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Relativity Photo)

Relativity, a rocket startup with roots at Blue Origin and SpaceX, says it has been awarded an exclusive 20-year lease to use a 25-acre engine test complex at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The arrangement furthers Relativity’s plans to develop its 3-D-printed Aeon 1 rocket engine as the heart of its low-cost Terran rocket, with an eye toward starting commercial launches in 2021.

Relativity got its organizational start in Seattle two years ago, thanks in part to CEO Tim Ellis’ background as a propulsion engineer for billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture in Kent, Wash. Relativity’s chief technology officer, Jordan Noone, interned at Blue Origin and worked at SpaceX.

Since its founding, Relativity’s base of operations has shifted to Los Angeles, where it has a production facility that boasts the world’s largest metal 3-D printer.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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