HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A company that builds and tests rockets at the John C. Stennis Space Center is expanding its operations in Hancock County.
Aerospace is expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at Stennis. The project is a $59-million corporate investment and will create 190 jobs, increasing employment at Relativity’s Stennis Space Center site to 200 workers.
"The Mississippi Gulf Coast has a strong aerospace presence, and Relativity's expansion at Stennis further positions our state as a leader in this prominent sector," Gov. Phil Bryant said. "The important work that will be done for Relativity by our skilled workforce will play a crucial role in developing new methods to connect to outer space and other planets."
Relativity is the first and only company to integrate metal 3D printing, robotics and software to build and launch rockets in days instead of years.
“It is a unique opportunity for both parties. We view it as a win, win," said deputy director Rodney McKellip.
The company develops its own launchers and rocket engines for commercial orbital launch services. In addition to expanding Stennis Space Center’s E4 Test Complex with a build-out of four additional upgraded test cells, Relativity has secured an agreement with NASA for an exclusive lease of building 9101, a 220,000-square-foot facility with an 80-foot-high bay and strong industrial capability. This will enable the company to build its patented autonomous rocket factory in Hancock County and integrate its production and testing operations into one space, reducing lead time to launch.
“We are excited to partner with the Mississippi Development Authority to bring our patented 3D printing rocket platform to Hancock county,“ said Jordan Noone, cofounder and CTO of Relativity. “We look forward to working together to bring more innovation, economic development and job growth to the Gulf Coast and progressing American space leadership. The integration of our 3D printing rocket production and testing facilities on one site will enable Relativity to offer greater flexibility to commercial and government entities needing faster, more frequent and lower cost access to space.“
The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for building renovations. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors also is assisting with the project.
"Relativity's expansion at Stennis Space Center is monumental for Hancock County and the entire state of Mississippi. The scope of the work to be undertaken by Relativity and performed by 200 skilled Mississippians demonstrates to the world some of the most advanced operations are successfully performed in our state, allowing companies in all sectors to not only meet, but exceed, their goals," said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. "MDA salutes the partnership of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, which has been instrumental in bringing this exciting economic development win bringing 190 new careers to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
With this expansion, Relativity is increasing infrastructure to more than 350,000 square feet of operations, production, testing and launch facilities. In the past year, the company has increased its employment from 14 to 90 workers. Relativity became the first venture-backed company to secure a launch site Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16 from the U.S. Air Force and has a 20-year exclusive-use Commercial Space Launch Act agreement at Stennis Space Center's E4 test complex, as well as membership on the National Space Council advising the White House.
“NASA is already charged to enable a growing domestic space launch capability. So, it is in our mission to help that domestic industry grow. So, we think this is a giant step forward in NASA’s ability to enable a new company to enter into the space launch market. An exciting time," sai deputy director Rodney McKellip.
Relativity will activate its manufacturing equipment in July and plans to complete development of the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, in 2020. The company is on track to conduct its first orbital test launch at the end of 2020 and enter commercial service in 2021. For more information, go to www.relativityspace.com.