Relativity Space to take over the huge site of the former Boeing C-17 • Long Beach Post News
The company, which already has a presence in Long Beach, significantly expands its operations by signing a 16.5-year lease for the sprawling 93-acre site west of the Long Beach Airport. The property includes a 1.1 million square foot hangar large enough to accommodate the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The value of the lease with Australian developer The Goodman Group, which owns the property, was not disclosed.
“We have always had ambitions and the belief that what we do is important to humanity,” said Tim Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Relativity. “It is a lesson in humility to walk through this facility, which will be the second largest factory in the private space sector. “
Construction of the company’s new headquarters is expected to begin in the coming weeks, with a move in scheduled for January 2022. The existing hangar, in which planes such as WWII B-18 bombers and the C- 17 Globemaster IIIs were assembled for decades, will be completely redesigned and reinvented, the company said.
Goodman acquired the C-17 property from Boeing in 2019, about four years after the plant closed, but was unable to move forward with any improvements or leases until the city had adopted the specific Globemaster Corridor Plan, which provides information on land use along Cherry Avenue. and Spring Street next to the airport.
Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the Globemaster plan on May 18, with a vision for a mixed commercial-industrial business park that could include a mix of manufacturing businesses such as Relativity, hotels, retail and restaurants.
“Long Beach has historically been one of the aerospace hubs not only in the Los Angeles area but nationwide,” Ellis said, adding that the “redevelopment and revitalization” of the Globemaster Corridor with Relativity would continue that tradition.
Growing space sector
Relativity is one of the newest additions to Long Beach’s growing space sector. The company currently occupies a 120,000 square foot office and manufacturing facility in the Pacific Edge Industrial Park at East Burnett Street and Redondo Avenue.
Other providers of rocket manufacturing and launching services in Long Beach include Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, and SpinLaunch. The space and launches sector represents more than 6,500 jobs, according to local economists.
“Relativity is a growing leader in the space economy of our world, and we are proud that they have chosen Long Beach as their home,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in an email. “This new headquarters will bring thousands of great, well-paying jobs to Long Beach and strengthen economic growth for the entire region. “
The state recently gave Relativity the largest 16-business tax credit in the latest round of California Competes, an income tax credit given to certain businesses seeking to locate in the state or expand their already existing operations in California. The state gave Relativity a $ 30 million tax credit on the condition that it increase its workforce to nearly 1,100 and invest nearly $ 320 million by year-end. taxation 2025.
Since moving to Long Beach in the summer of 2020, the company has more than quadrupled its workforce to over 450, according to spokesperson Nicole Ryan. But new growth is coming, she said, adding that the company expects to exceed 600 employees by the end of the year, with enough headroom to continue to grow. The new facility will have a capacity of more than 2,000 employees, she said.
“Los Angeles has the highest density of private space talent in the world – not just those who already know how to build and fly rockets, but also universities that have a large pool of talent,” Ellis said, noting the ideal location of Long Beach to pull from the LA and Orange County labor markets.
With a small number of employees working at NASA Stennis Space Center, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Washington, DC, and Seattle, Ellis said the proximity to Long Beach Airport is also beneficial for travel from business.
The expansion of the former C-17 facility will allow Relativity to increase production of its two rockets, the recently announced Terran 1 and Terran R, which are the first fully 3D printed rockets.
The two rockets will be used to send satellites into orbit that could be used for communications, global positioning systems (GPS), weather tracking, environmental monitoring and more. Going forward, the Terran R will also offer point-to-point space cargo service with missions between Earth, Moon and Mars, the company said.
Many aerospace companies have used 3D printing technology for years to create rocket components, but Relativity took it a step further by creating a proprietary machine, dubbed Stargate, and its own metal alloy.
The company has five of its specialty printers operating at its current headquarters, which will continue production of the Terran 1 after the expansion. The new facility will house dozens of additional printers and focus on the larger Terran R, according to Ryan. The facility will also include a metallurgical laboratory, a machine shop and a mission control center.
Relativity’s launch services sales have been strong, previously said Caryn Schenewerk, vice president of regulatory and government affairs. Although it doesn’t have a single launch under its belt, Relativity has already been awarded contracts by the United States Department of Defense, NASA, global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin, Momentous, Spaceflight. , Telesat and more.
Ellis said SpaceX is the only private space company with a larger factory. The Hawthorne-based company has made “inspiring and impressive” progress since its inception by Elon Musk nearly 20 years ago, Ellis said, adding that SpaceX’s goal to go to Mars and make humanity multiplanetary is the one it shares.
“I felt that 3D printing was inevitably necessary for that future to happen,” Ellis said.
Faster turnaround time
While a “simple” rocket like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 can take up to 18 months to manufacture – below the industry standard of two years – according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Relativity’s rockets can be produced in 60 days, Ryan said. The 3D printing process allows for shorter build times by drastically reducing the number of parts from over 100,000 to less than 1,000, she added.
The two-stage Terran R is 216 feet long with a diameter of 16 feet, a 5-meter payload fairing, or nose cone, and the ability to carry over 20,000 kilograms in low earth orbit and beyond. . The Terran 1, meanwhile, is 115 feet long with a diameter of 7 feet 6 inches and the ability to deliver payloads of between 750 and 1,250 kilograms depending on orbit.
The company has completed more than 500 engine tests at its Cape Canaveral facility and expects to receive final engine qualification within the next two months, Ellis said. The first flight of Terran 1 is scheduled before the end of the year, but no date has yet been set, he said.
The first Terran R is expected to take off from 2024 and already has an undisclosed customer registered for launch services using the new rocket.
To speed up production of Terran R at the new facility, Relativity raised $ 650 million in a Series E funding round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company. To date, the company has raised $ 1.3 billion and its total valuation is $ 4.2 billion, according to Ryan.
Originally founded in a Seattle WeWork space by Ellis and Jordan Noone in December 2015, the company quickly moved to Mountain View as part of the Y Combinator startup accelerator program. Ellis said that for about six months he and Noone lived in a small Airbnb while developing the first prototype of Stargate. Meanwhile, the new company raised $ 10 million in venture capital funding, allowing Relativity to move to Inglewood and begin hiring staff in its first official office, a 5,000 square foot space on Aviation Boulevard. .
Relativity’s relocation and subsequent expansion to Long Beach is a continuation of a recent influx of space companies settling in the city. The aerospace resurgence was kicked off when Virgin Galactic rented a building in Douglas Park in 2015, the site becoming the inaugural home of the company’s new Virgin Orbit business in 2017.
In January 2019, SpinLaunch moved from Sunnyvale to Douglas Park. Rocket Lab came next, moving its headquarters to Huntington Beach in early 2020. With rocket manufacturing businesses booming in the city, parts makers followed, most notably Morf3D, a 3D printing company in metal specializing in aerospace and defense components that announced a new Long Beach Headquarters in April.
“Most of our customer base is also transitioning to the Long Beach area,” said Ivan Madera, CEO of Morf3D, at a recent business forum.
During the same forum, Dan Abir, director of sales and marketing for M4 Engineering, said the Long Beach space sector has become a community, working with the city and together to strengthen and expand the sector in Long Beach.
“In the space industry what we are doing is so difficult and so important to the future of humanity that you see a lot of companies, while fierce competitors in some ways, are still taking root.” , Ellis said. “We are all involved in building that future and there are no people who applaud the demise of a business but actually want the whole industry to be strong, prosperous and grow. “