has signed a launch contract to deliver satellites to orbit with
Relativity Space. The contract includes flexible timing for up to six
dedicated launches to deploy Iridium’s ground spare satellites to Low
Earth Orbit (LEO). The launches will take place on an as-needed basis,
determined by Iridium and utilizing Relativity’s Terran 1, the world’s
first 3D printed launch vehicle. Launches are planned for no earlier
The second-generation Iridium constellation was completed in January
2019 and consists of 66 operational satellites and 9 in-orbit spares. An
additional six satellites were manufactured as ground spares and remain
in storage. Should the need arise to launch a ground spare, Relativity’s
Terran 1 offers a cost-effective, efficient response time option for
Iridium to quickly deploy a satellite to one of its six orbital planes.
Relativity’s disruptive large-scale robotic 3D printing technology
enables launches within months, instead of years.
“The upgraded Iridium satellite constellation is operating incredibly
well, but it’s prudent to have a cost-effective launch option available
for future spare delivery,” said Matt Desch CEO of Iridium.
“Relativity’s Terran 1 fits our launch needs to LEO well from both a
price, responsiveness and capability perspective. And we know based on
our previous experience that there are great benefits to engaging with a
provider early on during development of the launch vehicle and it
evolving around our particular needs.”
On June 24, 2020, Relativity also announced a Right of Entry Agreement
with the United States Air Force, 30th Space Wing, for development of
rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base. These launch site
facilities will support flights to the polar orbits needed for the
Iridium satellite constellation.
“Iridium offers critical communications over the planet’s entire
surface, and we are very proud to be their launch partner that supports
this capability,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder, Relativity Space.
“As the first 3D printed launch vehicle, Terran 1 offers uniquely
disruptive flexibility, cost, and performance advantages, especially for
medium-payload missions that need dedicated launches.”
Relativity Space also extended its launch capabilities via a Right of
Entry Agreement with the United States Air Force, 30th Space Wing for
development of rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Right of Entry (RoE) allows Relativity and the 30th Space Wing to
assess the viability of conducting launch operations at a location
currently comprised of Building 330 and adjacent land area. Relativity’s
launch capabilities, which will now span both coasts of the United
States, offer customers a complete range of orbital inclinations,
including polar and Sun Synchronous orbits (SSO), adding to the LEO, MEO,
GEO, and low inclination orbits possible at Cape Canaveral LC-16. These
expanded capabilities, along with the company’s autonomous production
via metal 3D printing, help drive Relativity’s continued momentum.
“We’re honored to begin this partnership with the 30th Space Wing and
join the exclusive group of private space companies able to conduct
launches at Vandenberg,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity. “The West
Coast launch facilities allow Relativity to provide affordable access to
polar and sun sync orbits that are critical for both government and
commercial customers. The geographic southerly position of B-330 at
Vandenberg offers schedule certainty and increased launch frequency that
will be advantageous to our Terran 1 customers.”
Vandenberg Air Force Base is the home of the 30th Space Wing, which
manages the Department of Defense’s space and missile testing, as well
as satellite launches into polar and sun sync orbits from the West
Coast. If approved, the B-330 launch site at Vandenberg will be capable
of supporting Relativity’s rocket, Terran 1, the world’s first and only
fully 3D printed rocket, as well as the company’s future capabilities.
Relativity’s senior leadership team, drawn from both longtime aerospace
companies and industry pioneers, has executed dozens of successful
launches at Vandenberg.
30th Space Wing takes great pride in supporting the next generation of
leaders in space. We are impressed by Relativity’s innovative approach
to reinventing aerospace manufacturing via 3D metal printing and
robotics paired with an executive team of seasoned aerospace leaders. We
look forward to working with Relativity as its West Coast launch partner
for many years to come,” stated Colonel Anthony J. Mastalir, 30th Space
Wing commander, Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Relativity continues to grow its customer manifest and public-private
partnerships. This agreement represents yet another milestone that the
company secured with federal, state, and local governments and agencies
across the United States Government. A potential launch site at
Vandenberg will be Relativity’s latest addition to its portfolio of
major infrastructure partnerships, which also include a launch site
Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16 and an exclusive-use
Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) agreement for NASA test sites E4 and
E2 at the NASA Stennis Space Center.