3D Printed Rocket Company Expands Lease at Stennis Space Center

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Relativity Space, a 3D printed rocket company, has signed a lease agreement to operate the A-2 Test Stand within NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss. The company, which has had a presence at Stennis since 2016, will now occupy nearly 300 acres of the historic facility.

The A-2 Test Stand was constructed in 1966 to test the second stage of the Saturn V, the launch vehicle for the Apollo space program. Later, it was used for engine testing for the Space Shuttle program. It has been unused for nearly a decade. 

Relativity said it plans to invest $267 million into infrastructure at Stennis and create hundreds of new jobs in the region by 2027 as it plans further testing of its reusable 3D printed “Terran R” rocket.

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“New history is being written at Stennis Space Center as we breathe life into the historic A-2 Test Stand with our Terran R program,” said Tim Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Relativity Space, in a press release announcing the lease agreement. “We appreciate the support from NASA and the State of Mississippi and look forward to continuing to build out our team and testing infrastructure here in the Gulf Coast.”

Relativity Space is headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., with teams in Florida, Washington state and Washington, D.C. — along with its expanding crew in Mississippi. The company has 1,000 employees overall. About 100 are working at Stennis.

“The scale of Terran R as a medium-heavy lift reusable launch vehicle is substantial,” said Ellis. “Exclusive access to these rare, national-asset facilities through partnership with NASA uniquely enables Relativity to develop a world-class launch vehicle. Together with our significant private capital commitments to reinvigorate these facilities, we are building innovative capabilities to solidify America’s leadership in space.”

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Terran R is part of Relativity’s long-term vision to “build an industrial base on Mars and upgrade the industrial base on Earth.” The company said it has “invented a new approach to design, print, and fly our own rockets, starting with the world’s first 3D printed rocket, Terran 1, which reached space in March 2023.”

“We applaud Relativity Space in announcing this expanded agreement. Since arriving on site in 2016, the company has grown into a valued member of the NASA Stennis community,” said Dr. Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center. “This increased footprint is a testament to Relativity’s continued progress in the commercial space arena. It also is a testament to the value of NASA Stennis and our test complex infrastructure in supporting commercial space endeavors. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Relativity team members as they work to achieve their space goals.”

The A-2 Test Stand was originally designed to withstand maximum thrust of 1.5 million pounds. Relativity’s upgrades will more than double the maximum capacity.

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Relativity holds ten-year exclusive-use leases with the option for 10-year extensions on the E-2 and E-4 stands at Stennis. It also has a commercial use agreement for the E-1 site, and is building new engine and stage test infrastructure in the R Complex at NASA Stennis.

The company is hiring in the region.

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