July 2019
Vol 6 | Issue 239

Q&A with Tim Ellis of Relativity Space


Principal Series:

Relativity Space is disrupting the space business by 3D printing rocket ships. Constructing a rocket, once a multi-year effort, is now measured in weeks, if not days. The low hanging fruit is the $25bn/year satellite launch market, and the “fill your boots” investment rationale is the horizontal expansion into the $1tn aerospace market. Relativity is creating fully 3D printed rockets today, and will be printing all Aerospace products in 20 years. 

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What Do We Do At Relativity Space?

Relativity is the first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite constellations.Our vision is to build the future of humanity in space -- starting with rockets. We are building the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket, Terran 1. Terran 1 has 100x lower part count than traditional rockets, a radically simple supply chain, and will be built from raw material to flight in less than 60 days with unparalleled iteration speed. Backed by leading investors including Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital, Phillip Spector formerly of Intelsat, and Mark Cuban, Relativity deploys and resupplies satellite constellations with industry-defining lead time, flexibility, and cost, better connecting and securing our planet.

Who is The Relativity Space Team?

We have an unrivaled team at Relativity Space including 12 senior executive leaders from SpaceX, Blue Origin, Tesla, and Virgin Orbit.

Tim Ellis (CEO) - Founder of Blue Origin's metal 3D printing program. Early Blue Origin propulsion engineer working on BE-4, Crew Capsule, New Glenn.

Jordan Noone (CTO) - SpaceX Dragon propulsion component responsible engineer. SpaceX and Blue Origin. First student in US to get FAA launch license to space.

Tobias Duschl (VP Operations) - Senior director of Global Biz Operations, Tesla, 7 years. Top leader in 6000 person Services organization.

David Giger (VP Launch Vehicle Dev) - Senior director of Dragon engineering, SpaceX, 13 Years. Top leader in $3B, 200 engineer program.

Josh Brost (VP Government Biz Dev) - Senior director of Gov't Biz Dev Space X. 9 years. Closed $3B+ in government contracts.

Brandon Pearce (VP Avionics and Software) - Acting VP Avionics, SpaceX, 8 years, built hardware team. Senior director Avionics and GNC Virgin Orbit, 3 years, built team.

Tim Buzza (Distinguished Engineer) - 5th Employee SpaceX, VP launch/production/test 12 years. Co-President, VP Program Management/Launch, Virgin Orbit, 4 years. World's foremost expert in rockety development.

Laura Lariu (General Counsel) - General counsel, Virgin Hyperloop One, 3 years. Gunderson Dettmer, 5 years. Closed multibillion dollar deals and hundreds of transactions across industries.

JR Francis (Director of Biz Dev & Sales) - 15 years sales executive at global satellite operators Thuraya, SES. Director Biz Dev, Virgin Orbit. Background in satellite engineering, operations.

Nate Scholten (Director of Propulsion) - Youngest-ever Chief Engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne, 10 years. Top technical leader on $600M worth of rocket engine programs.

Chris Newton (Director of Launch) - SpaceX leadership for launch pads SLC-40, SLC-39A, SLC-4 fluid systems buildout 5 years. Designer first landing drone. Head of launch at Virgin Orbit.

James Harris (Vehicle Responsible Engineer) - Head of all vehicle testing at Blue Origin, core leadership team, 8 years. Waymo head of motion control systems engineering.

What Milestones Have We Accomplished?

Business Side:
- Secured $275M value in exclusive long term infrastructure partnerships with US Govt including Nasa test sites and the last two available launch sites awarded by the US Air Force at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral.
- 28X infrastructure increase (10K to 280K sq ft) planned 2x increase to 280k sq ft (half awarded by USAF and NASA)
- $142M (2019 To date) Total contract value closed with binding down payments
- $250M expected in total contract value in 2019 with customers needing $13.3B of launching by 2025

Product Side:
Achieved pioneering product and technology milestones on track to first orbital launch by beginning of 2021
- Building flight development software
- Passed initial Second Stage Hold Down Test
- Completed 180 engine tests, pressurized structures, avionics architecture
- Expanded print production capacity 3X and made an even larger printer

- 6x team growth from 14 to 92 people, becoming the clear talent winner in the sector
- Hired 12 former senior executive leaders from SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit and Tesla
- National Space council leadership directly advising the US White House and President as the only venture-backed company and youngest member by 20 years.

Tim Ellis of Relativity Space
Cofounder & CEO at Relativity Space / MIT 35 Innovators Under 35 / 30 Under 30: Inc., Forbes, Business Insider / World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer / Advisor to the U.S. White House @ National Space Council