Jeff Bezos visits Relativity Space’s headquarters with Tim Ellis


The row of two-story 3D printer bays is located at the company’s headquarters.

Relativity space

The founders of two private rocket construction companies met today – one, the richest person in the world; the other, the head of a company that pushes the boundaries of manufacturing.

Jeff Bezos visited relativity space’s shiny new “factory of the future” on Friday, a person familiar with the visit told CNBC to tour the Long Beach, Calif. Facility with CEO Tim Ellis. Relativity moved from its previous headquarters in Inglewood to the new facility last summer.

The nature of the visit to Relativity’s headquarters was unclear.

Ellis previously worked as a propulsion engineer at Bezos’ space company Blue Origin – and was blamed for doing the process of 3D printing metal rocket parts in-house. Ellis left Blue Origin in 2015 to start Relativity with Jordan Noone, a college classmate and former SpaceX propulsion engineer.

Relativity declined CNBC’s request for comment on Bezos’ visit, while Blue Origin did not respond to requests for comment.

The factory floor of Relativity’s new headquarters in Long Beach, California.

Relativity space

The theory of relativity has focused on the 3D printing approach, using huge printers and metallurgy developed in-house to build 95% of the parts of its rockets. Ellis points out that 3D printing drastically reduces the complexity of his missiles, but also makes them faster to build and modify. According to Relativity, the simpler process will be able to convert raw materials into a rocket on the launchpad in less than 60 days.

The company’s first rocket, Terran 1, is expected to launch for the first time later this year. Terran 1 costs 12 million US dollars per launch and is designed to transport around 1,250 kilograms into low-earth orbit. This puts Terran 1 in the “medium lift” segment of the US launch market between Electron from Rocket Lab and Falcon 9 from SpaceX in terms of both price and performance.

Relativity is also working on a second, larger rocket called the Terran R, which aims to rival SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in both launchability and reusability. Terran R is the first of several new initiatives that Ellis is expected to introduce in the coming year. The company has raised more than $ 680 million since it was founded five years ago.

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, speaks in Washington, DC on September 19, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images