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Relativity touts next generation rocket before its first generation rocket has even launched

Capitalism in space: In an interview with CNBC the CEO of Relativity Space, Tim Ellis, pushed his company’s plans to develop a completely reusable rocket, dubbed the Terran-R, even though they have as yet completed even one test launch of their first rocket, the Terran-1.

Called Terran R, the reusable rocket is “really an obvious evolution” from the company’s Terran 1 rocket, Relativity CEO Tim Ellis told CNBC – the latter of which Relativity expects to launch for the first time later in 2021. “It’s the same architecture, the same propellant, the same factory, the same 3D printers, the same avionics and the same team,” Ellis said. “I’ve always been a huge fan of reusability. No matter how you look at it – even with 3D printing, and dropping the cost, and [increasing the] automation of a launch vehicle – making it reusable has got to be part of that future,” Ellis added.

Terran R is the first of several new initiatives that Ellis expects Relativity to unveil in the year ahead, with the company having raised more than $680 million since its founding five years ago. Just like Terran 1, Relativity will build Terran R with more than 90% of the parts through additive manufacturing – utilizing the world’s largest 3D printers as what Ellis calls “the factory of the future.”

Relativity, valued at $2.3 billion, ranks as one of the most valuable private space companies in the world. Its investors include Tiger Global Management, Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Mark Cuban and more.

All well and good, but maybe before Ellis brags about his next generation rocket he might be better served to focus on getting that first rocket successfully off the ground later this year. It is a good thing his company is thinking of making its rockets reusable, but right now he is overselling while under-performing, a very bad sales technique. Better to do what Scotty of Star Trek did routinely, undersell while over-performing.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Joe

    I don’t get it with rocket companies saying we are on design iteration 3 or 4 but still haven’t launched? What is there is a design flaw that needs to be addressed? That could really hamper later designs. I get the go fast thing, but how about sticking to one vehicle at a time? SpaceX did pretty much that. “Here is our roadmap. We are on ship x right now and we’ll make it fly first and then see where we are going.” Firefly, Blue Origin, Relativity are all doing it. Meanwhile SpaceX and Rocket Labs keep flying.

  • Jeff Wright

    I think autophage-self eating-rockets as Tsander called for–that is the future. Grow a rocket out of a vat…it burns like a cigarette-and you don’t need a barge or recovery gear. I think one of the reasons Elon didn’t go with fly-backs wasn’t just powered descent for Mars. If you put wings on something the fly-boys will get all in it. What really scared me was the neutrino-comm story some years back. This would eliminate the need for comsats if they could shrink it down. This would hurt space launch-and perhaps explain the Fermi Paradox.

  • “Och, I’ve got a phasor bank charged.”

    “Scotty, you’ve earned your pay for the week.”

    Doomsday Machine

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