Impulse Space and Relativity Space announce first commercial mission to Mars
Impulse Space, Inc. – leading the development of in-space transportation services for the inner solar system – today announced a groundbreaking partnership and launch mission with Relativity Space, Inc., the first company to 3D print entire rockets and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world, to deliver the first commercial payload to Mars. With an anticipated launch window starting in 2024, the historic partnership rapidly advances the companies’ shared goal of a multiplanetary existence for humanity.
Under the exclusive agreement, Relativity is scheduled to launch Impulse’s Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander in Terran R from Cape Canaveral, FL in an exclusive arrangement until 2029. Terran R will deliver Impulse’s Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander on a trans-Mars injection (TMI) orbit launched from Earth to Mars. Once in Mars orbit, the aeroshell-equipped Mars Lander will enter the red planet's atmosphere and propulsively land on Mars’ surface. Impulse’s Mars Lander will have its own payload capacity to the Martian surface, supporting the research and development needed to build toward humanity’s multiplanetary future.
Designed as the world’s first fully reusable, entirely 3D printed rocket, Terran R is pioneering a new class of reusable launch vehicles that will open new opportunities for space exploration and scientific research. Made possible through Relativity’s proprietary 3D printing process and exotic materials, Terran R features unique design geometries that are not possible to achieve in traditional manufacturing, driving exponential innovation and disruption in the industry.
With a five-meter payload fairing and the ability to launch almost 20 times greater payload than Terran 1 – Relativity’s first 3D printed rocket set for its first orbital launch this year – Terran R offers both government and commercial customers affordable access to space, in LEO and beyond. Terran R also represents a large leap towards Relativity’s mission to build humanity’s multiplanetary future, by serving as a point-to-point space freighter capable of missions between Earth, the Moon and Mars. To date, Relativity has signed a total of five customers for Terran R totaling more than $1.2B in backlog, including a multi-year, multi-launch Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with OneWeb recently announced in June 2022.
Disrupting 60 years of aerospace with 3D printing, autonomous robotics, and machine learning, Relativity’s radically simplified supply chain enables the company to print its rockets with 100x fewer parts in less than 60 days. The company’s proprietary 3D printing process centers on its Stargate printers, the world’s largest metal 3D printer that Relativity developed and built in house. To date, Relativity has created four generations of Stargate, with its most recent version improving its prior generation’s print speed by 10 times.
“This is a major milestone for both Impulse and Relativity, as well as the entire space industry,” says Impulse Space Founder and CEO Tom Mueller. “One of the most challenging aspects of landing on Mars is the ‘glide stage,’ which involves an aeroshell to encapsulate the lander for the survival of Mars entry. With the power of our combined teams, experience and passion, I am confident this historic mission will be just one of many to come.”
Launched in September 2021 by Mueller, a founding member of SpaceX, Impulse is driven by a vision to provide reliable and economical in-space transportation services that include both last-mile space payload delivery services as well as supporting the logistics of in-space orbital movements of satellites. With deep industry experience, Impulse team members have led some of the most innovative companies in the Space 2.0 sector and developed products for organizations such as SpaceX, NASA, GE, Joe Gibbs Racing, Virgin and other notable enterprises.
Mars is the next frontier for humankind and has captured the focus of leading scientists and engineers ever since humans stepped on the Moon. Now, with the commercialization of space, and the rapid iteration and innovation made possible through automation and metal 3D printing, the reality of a multiplanetary species on Earth and Mars is fast approaching.
“We believe building a multiplanetary future on Mars is only possible if we inspire dozens to hundreds of companies to work toward a singular goal,” said Tim Ellis, Cofounder and CEO of Relativity. “This is a monumental challenge, but one that successfully achieved will expand the possibilities for human experience in our lifetime across two planets. With the delivery capabilities of Terran R coupled with Impulse’s in-space transportation, we are bringing humanity one step closer to making Mars a reality. This is a historic, impactful partnership with Tom and the entire Impulse team through the collaboration of two low-cost commercial providers that will establish and expand our presence on Mars.”