Relativity joins Blue Origin to provide launches for Telesat’s broadband satellites
Science & Technology

Relativity joins Blue Origin to provide launches for Telesat’s broadband satellites

Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis is a veteran of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin area enterprise — and in a way, you may say that Ellis and Blue Origin are on the identical group as soon as once more.

At this time, the startup that Ellis co-founded in Seattle and moved to Los Angeles is making its first announcement of a launch contract, and it’s a giant one: Relativity House will provide a number of launches for Telesat, the Canadian telecom big that’s planning to put scores of satellites in low Earth orbit to ship international broadband connectivity.

“That is the primary time Telesat or any main international satellite tv for pc operator has chosen a totally venture-backed aerospace startup for launch companies,” Ellis informed GeekWire.

The deal calls for satellites to be launched on Relativity’s yet-to-be-flown Terran 1 rocket, beginning no sooner than 2021. For proprietary causes, Ellis couldn’t provide different particulars, equivalent to the precise variety of launches lined by the deal, the contract’s greenback worth and even the place the launches can be carried out.

He did say the deal has been within the works since 2016, when Relativity House had solely seven individuals on its payroll. Now the corporate employs 80 individuals, and a mean of two staff are being added each week, he mentioned.

At this time’s announcement comes slightly greater than two months after Telesat and Blue Origin announced a separate deal for multiple satellite launches on Blue Origin’s yet-to-be-built New Glenn rocket, additionally focused for the 2021-or-later time-frame.

Telesat launched its first low-Earth-orbit broadband satellite final yr — and finally plans to construct up a constellation in low Earth orbit, or LEO, comprising hundreds of satellites designed to provide international broadband companies.

“We’re actually excited to be part of the ranks of Telesat and Blue Origin to have the opportunity to help this constellation,” Ellis mentioned.

Telesat’s chief technical officer, Dave Wending, praised Relativity House for making use of 3-D printing expertise to the manufacture of rocket elements.

“Early in our LEO program we determined that, as well as to working with excellent leaders in satellite tv for pc manufacturing and launch companies who we all know effectively, Telesat must also embody NewSpace corporations whose applied sciences and manufacturing strategies provide decrease prices and higher flexibility for deploying our constellation,” Wending mentioned in a information launch. “Relativity is simply such an organization with their metallic 3-D printing, use of robotics and different advances.”

Ellis mentioned Relativity House is on observe to conduct its first orbital check launch from Launch Complicated 16 at Cape Canaveral Air Power Station in Florida by the tip of 2020.

As well as to the Florida launch facility, the corporate has its headquarters and rocket manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, that includes a room-sized, robotic 3-D printer called Stargate. The L.A. operation is anticipated to relocate to an even bigger facility this yr.

Relativity makes use of facilities at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to check its 3-D-printed Aeon 1 rocket engine, and it’s at present wanting for a West Coast launch web site. Though Ellis didn’t say so, Vandenberg Air Power Base appears to be the likeliest spot. And for what it’s value, Blue Origin is planning to develop a launch web site at Vandenberg as effectively.

All these growth plans are anticipated to increase Relativity’s infrastructure footprint to greater than 350,000 sq. toes by the tip of the yr.

Telesat is in no way the one satellite tv for pc enterprise concentrating on the worldwide broadband market: SpaceX and OneWeb are additionally planning massive satellite tv for pc constellations, and this week, Amazon said it would join the fray. There’s an opportunity that Relativity House may get a few of that enterprise as effectively. In spite of everything, Blue Origin already has a launch contract from OneWeb, and due to the Bezos connection, it’s positive to be within the operating for Amazon’s enterprise as effectively.

Ellis has fond recollections of his days at Blue Origin, and though Relativity House’s headquarters is now firmly settled in Los Angeles, he mentioned a Seattle workplace may effectively be a part of the corporate’s long-range plan.

“It’s nonetheless all the time at the back of our minds,” Ellis mentioned.

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