Does the world need a 3D-printed rocket?


Relativity Space, a well-funded startup, is going all-in on additive manufacturing. But is that too much of a good thing?

The once pristine white floors featured in Relativity Space’s PR photos are now scuffed and coated with the residue of a typical machine shop. Inside its warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles, three robot arms hang imposingly next to a container filled with a coil of metal wire. The container’s lid has a jagged hole as if someone punched through it on a bad day; duct tape has been slapped on to cover the sharp edges. This is a machine that’s been pushed to its limits, in service of a lofty goal. Led by its founders, Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, Relativity is attempting to create 95% of its rocket, Terran 1, using 3D printing, in just 60 days.

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