Developer of small space launch vehicles Relativity announced early this week that it will make a production facility for its soon to be launched Terran 1 rocket at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. It has leased the 20,000 square meters Building No. 9101 located at Stennis for 9 years under agreement with NASA and Mississippi Development Authority. The firm affirmed that the lease was given at discounted terms though it did not disclose specifics of the terms. The Mississippi Development Authority is an agency for local economic development that will give tax incentives and cost reimbursement to the firm to establish the factory.
Relativity has affirmed that it will invest $59 million in the state at its factory and will increase its employee strength from current level of 10 to 200 employees within next five years. It selected Stennis to set up the unit as it has a 25 meter high bay and several bridge cranes and they got it at no extra cost said VP operations Tobias Duschl of Relativity. It is always an advantage to be close to the test site as there is faster iteration and also test loop between manufacturing and test site.
Industrial infrastructure provided by this facility would have been tough for the firm to find anywhere else. When the facility is built Relativity’s management foresees a production unit that can produce 12–24 rockets every year. It makes extensive use of 3-D printing to produce more rockets that reduces manufacturing time. Though Duschl stated that it will take around 3–5 year for the production unit to become fully operational the firm wants to start moving equipment there immediately. Los Angeles based Relativity has plans to expand other facilities and work on rocket development. Officials at Stennis are waiting eagerly for Relativity to start work as they consider it a valuable member of the city.